Acetylene-powered vechicle project complete

By NNN-New Ziana

Harare : Researchers from the Scientific, Industrial Research and Development Centre have successfully modified a petrol powered motor vehicle so that it uses oxy-acetylene gas as an innovative way of circumventing fuel challenges that Zimbabwe is experiencing, an expert said on Saturday.

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SIRDC chief executive officer Dr Robson Mafoti told New Ziana that the scientists were planning to move further to experimenting with natural gas, which was cheaper and more practical.

“Yes, we developed the acetylene driven vehicle and it is moving,� he said.

Mafoti said the scientists mixed oxygen and acetylene to produce oxy-acetylene, which they used to fuel the modified engine and it worked.

He said the vehicle had since been subjected to intensive road tests, which proved that the exercise proceeded well.

A retired motor mechanic teamed up with scientists from the SIRDC to spearhead the acetylene driven motor vehicle as part of national efforts to find solutions to shortages of fuel bedeviling the country.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe provided financial support for the project, which involved modifying the mechanical, electrical and safety features of the vehicle so that it could be fuelled by acetylene

Acetylene is a colourless soluble flammable gas used in the manufacture of organic chemicals and in cutting metals.

Successfully modifying a vehicle from petrol power to natural gas would provide a major boost to Zimbabwe since it discovered some reserves of methane gas in the Lupane District of Matabeleland North Province.

Natural gas consists mainly of methane, which is trapped below the ground.

Work on the Lupane Gas Project has stalled due to reluctance by foreign investors to provide US$ 12 million to drill the five holes required to ascertain the extent of the reserves and quality of gas.

Most of the investors fear that they may find inadequate reserves after sinking their money into the project.

Zimbabwe is vigorously pursuing a bio-diesel project from which it expects to produce 20 percent of national fuel requirements from processing seeds from the Jatropha plant.

A pilot project has since been set up in Mutoko, Mashonaland West Province , where the Jatropha plant grows naturally.

From Mutoko the project will be scaled up to national level.