PressCane Limited is an ethanol distillery company which is a subsidiary of the conglomerate Press Corporation Limited and Cane Products Limited. It began its operations in June 2004. The distillery complex is located in Chikhwawa on the west bank of the Shire River about 30 km north of Nchalo (55km south of Blantyre) and employs 83 Malawians including management.
The main products of the distillery are fuel ethanol also known as anhydrous alcohol (AA 99.5% v/v), potable alcohol (96.0 v/v – 99.8% v/v) and industrial alcohol (rectified spirit 96.0% v/v). Sugar cane molasses are procured from Illovo in Nchalo and undergoes through a fermentation process to produce ethanol. The molasses is a byproduct (effluent) for the Illovo Sugar Mill process whose environmental disposal issues were solved by the establishment of PressCane Limited.
The high quality of the ethanol is enhanced by the new molecular sieve dehydration (MSDH) technology installed in the distillery.
Presscane Limited has a mandate to supply fuel ethanol to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) such as Puma Energy Malawi Limited, Petroda, Engen, VIVO Energy, Mount Meru and Total Energies for blending purposes in a ratio of 20% fuel ethanol and 80% petrol. Fuel blending in Malawi (and indeed elsewhere) was precipitated by the fuel energy crisis in the early 1970s. Today fuel blending is mostly driven by: Environmental clean air issues and the recognized rapid depletion of the traditional fossil fuels and hence the necessity of renewable energy sources. There are further considerations which apply to Malawi such as the need to save on foreign exchange.
The potable alcohol (food grade) is mainly sold to beverage companies and SMEs for the production of liquor products. Part of it is exported to the neighboring countries and beyond in order to generate foreign exchange for Malawi.
Industrial alcohol is used in such industries as pharmaceuticals, printing, plastics industries and as a solvent in the paint industry among others.
In an effort to manage waste from ethanol production, coal ash as a byproduct is used to produce durable fly ash hollow blocks for the construction industry.
Other alcohol based products (Alcobase) are also produced such as Dehydrated Ethanol, Methylated Spirit, Hydrous Ethanol, Hand Sanitizers and Gel Fuel for cooking in the hospitality industry and homes.