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lunes, 8 de mayo de 2017

Praj starts up its demo biorefinery based on Enfinity technology

Last December, the Blog reported about several agreements to set up cellulosic ethanol biorefineries in India (see post). Praj participates in three of them as technology partner of two Oil Marketing Companies (BPCL and IOCL). Its second generation ethanol platform is called Enfinity and it is based on an integrated biorefinery approach. The company has just announced the achievement of an important milestone regarding to the scale up of the technology: the successful completion and start-up of its “smart biorefinery” at demonstration scale (see press release).

In 2009, Praj inaugurated the Cellulosic Ethanol Pilot Plant at Praj Matrix (R&D centre in Urawade). Pilot plant trials validated work done at laboratory scale. Continuing its effort in bringing new technologies to the ethanol industry, it decided to scale up the pilot plant and built a 2G commercial demo plant in 2012. According to some references, the commissioning had been targeted by 2nd half 2014. However, it is now when has been implemented.

This 2G ethanol demo plant can produce 1 ML per year of ethanol by processing a variety of agriculture residues like rice and wheat straw, cotton stalk, cane trash and corn cobs and stover. The process is highly energy efficient and is equipped with zero liquid discharge system. Also, other renewable fuels and chemicals are expected to be produced through this technology platform. Experts from the Oil Marketing Companies and their engineering consultants have already visited the demo plant and endorsed the success of Praj’s technology.

Figure 1. Praj process block diagram (extracted from the presentation “Biomass to Bioethanol - Second Generation Technology by Praj”, February 2016)

Talking about this achievement, Mr. Pramod Chaudhari (Executive Chairman at Praj) said: “Commercialization of 2G ethanol technology will give an impetus to rural economy and create additional employment opportunities. The menace caused by burning of farm residue can be addressed effectively by converting biomass into ethanol to be used as a transportation fuel. Progressively increased ethanol blending will help achieve GHG emission reduction targets agreed at COP 21 Paris summit.”

In India, an ecosystem for 2G ethanol is in the making to attain the aspired 20% blend ratio. As a part of this drive, several 2G ethanol projects are expected to be finalized with average CAPEX of around Rs 600 crore (approx. 85 M€). Each of these plants will have the capacity to produce 100,000 litre ethanol per day. Praj’s smart biorefinery technology paves the way for stepping up this ethanol blending program.

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