“This pioneering process demonstrates the production of efficient and sustainable advanced biofuels and has great potential as a technology platform for a variety of bio-based materials,”
Clariant is to step-up its production of biofuel using agricultural feedstocks that don’t compete with food production, with the building of a full-scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Romania.
Planned for construction next year, and with the first batch expected in 2020, when the plant is up and running, it will have an annual production capacity of 50,000 tonnes that will raise Romania’s bioethanol output to around 130,000 tonnes – when combined with the country’s one other plant. Around 250,000 tonnes of straw is required to produce 50,000 tonnes of bioethanol, says Clariant.
Virtually carbon neutral, Clariant’s method of production is to not interfere with materials that could be used in the production of food (food versus fuel) and has developed a process it calls Sunliquid, which uses wheat straw and other cereal straws sourced from local farmers. Sunliquid, which last year scooped an innovation award for climate and environment, uses a four-stage process involving mechanical and thermal pre-treatment; enzyme production; fermentation of the sugars produced; and, finally, ethanol purification.
Clariant is clear that it thinks cellulosic sugars have the potential to serve as a building block for the future production of bio-based chemicals, with a company executive saying it is continually investing in the development of sustainable products such as Sunliquid. “This pioneering process demonstrates the production of efficient and sustainable advanced biofuels and has great potential as a technology platform for a variety of bio-based materials,” said Christian Kohlpaintner.
To make the most of the bioethanol commercially, Clariant has set-up a new Business Line Biofuels & Derivatives department, five years after it first operated its pre-commercial Sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany.
“It is the next big step into an attractive market and a significant advancement in the successful commercialisation of this highly innovative and sustainable technology,” said Markus Rarbach, head of start-up business for the Biofuels & Derivatives department.
Romania has solid credentials in its commitment to creating sustainable biofuels and would appear a good fit for Clariant’s ambitions. The country, along with 10 others including Bulgaria, Denmark and Estonia, have already met their 2020 targets related to the share of energy from renewable sources in the EU member states, as published by the statistical office of the European Union.
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