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sábado, 5 de mayo de 2018

Chempolis, Fortum and NRL seal a deal for the building of a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in India

Type of post: NEWS.

On 14th February 2016, Chempolis announced the establishment of a joint venture with Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL, a state-owned Indian oil company) to build a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery using formicobio™ technology in the state of Assam in Northeast India (see “Chempolis and NRL to build advanced biorefinery in India”, 22/2/2016). At that time, the details about the timeline were not disclosed and, until now, advances on the status of the project were not known.

Three days ago, Chempolis announced the creation of a new joint venture to construct the biorefinery in Assam (see press release, 2/5/2018). Now, Fortum, a Finish energy company, has associated with the two former members.

Project key data

Numaligarh (Assam, Northeast India).
Feedstock and processing capacity
300,000 tons of bamboo from the vast natural and cultivated bamboo reserves of Northeast India.
Products and production capacity
- 60 million liters of ethanol. It will be used entirely for NRL’s fuel production in Assam.
- 19,000 tons of furfural.
- 11,000 tons of acetic acid.
- 144 gigawatt hours of green energy.
Total investment
160 M€.
30% is being funded through equity and 70% through loans provided by Indian banks.
Details of the joint venture
The joint venture will own the biorefinery.
- Chempolis (22%): is the licensor of the plant’s technology.
- Fortum (28%): will expand its activities in India with a portfolio of bioproducts.
- NRL (50%): is responsible for the facility’s operations.
Environmental permit for the biorefinery (India’s Ministry of Environment): November 2017.
Beginning of construction works: autumn of 2018.
Start-up: 2020.

The process

The benefits of formicobio derive from the selective fractioning of the biomass. Chempolis’s patented technology offers high yields of marketable products and its operating costs are low because the hydrolysis of clean cellulose requires only small quantities of enzymes.

Figure 1. Simplified diagram of the formicobio process (extracted from Chempolis website)

It consists of the following main stages:
- Bamboo chips are fractionated with a biosolvent.
- The biomass fractions are refined into ethanol, acetic acid, furfural and lignin-rich biocoal.
- The biosolvent and water are recovered and recycled.

Sustainable procurement of bamboo

The main sustainability risks are related to bamboo cultivation and harvesting. The joint venture has agreed on the risk mitigation plan based on a sustainability assessment. This plan covers requirements for the origin, the sourcing and the traceability as well as conditions for procurement and labour practices.

53 million tons of bamboo grows in Northeast India, of which 8 million tons are utilized. The raw material required for the biorefinery is approximately 1% of the bamboo growing in the region. NRL has signed a MoU with UNIDO for developing the community based supply chain for bamboo. NRL is also cooperating with JFMCS (Joint Forest management committees) for sourcing bamboo through community involvement and with state governmental bamboo developmental agencies such as Arunachal Pradesh Bamboo Development Agency (APBRDA) and Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency (NBDA).

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