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jueves, 26 de enero de 2017

St1 and Ubon Bio Ethanol to launch a pilot project to produce ethanol from cassava waste in Thailand

St1 continues to move forward. Last year, the blog reported on its plans for building new cellulosic ethanol plants in Europe (see “St1 is planning to construct a new Cellunolix® ethanol plant in Norway” and “St1 announces its plans for a new cellulosic ethanol project in Pietarsaari and the expansion of the Kaajani plant”). And now, it goes out of the European continent towards Asia guided by Ubon Bio Ethanol, the largest cassava ethanol producer in Thailand. On 24th January, both companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a pilot project to produce bioethanol from cassava waste (see press release).

Figure 1. St1 and Ubon Bio Ethanol teams after the signing of the Memorandum (extracted from Ubon Bio Ethanol web page)

St1 has performed studies of different types of food industry waste for bioethanol production in its R&D laboratories and discovered that waste from cassava starch production in Thailand is one of the best feedstock sources for its Etanolix® technology. Etanolix® plants refine waste and residues which are rich in starch and sugar into 99,8% bioethanol. Cassava waste is a challenging feedstock due to its fibrous consistency, which makes starch extraction difficult. However, St1 experience in producing ethanol from sawdust helped it to address the challenges involved in the processing of fibrous feedstock materials.

Ubon Bio Ethanol Company Limited has a starch and ethanol plant in the same location in Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand). This convenient arrangement will make the pilot project easy to manage and will simplify full-scale production logistics. Moreover, it will allow to ensure a smooth start to production and to assess the effects of local conditions and seasonal changes on the scale and design of the ethanol plant. Design engineers are currently working on the pilot equipment and the launch is scheduled for this year.

The amount of cassava waste generated by Thailand’s largest starch production plants would enable the construction of units producing 10-30 million litres of ethanol per year. To produce ethanol from cassava waste will serve to improve economically margin of starch producers and solve the environmental issue related to this by-product. Patrick Pitkänen (Head of Business Development and Sales at St1) said: “Our goal is to build as many as 20 Etanolix® plants in Thailand, with a combined production capacity of 400 million litres of ethanol per year”. According to the press release, Thailand uses over 3 million litres of ethanol per day as transport fuel and the Government plans to raise consumption to 11.3 million litres per day by 2036.

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