The ethanol-producing biorefinery of Numaligarh Biorefinery Limited, a joint venture of Chempolis, Fortum, and NRL, will use 300,000 tons of bamboo annually as raw material. The refinery will begin operations in 2020 and will be the world’s first biorefinery to utilize bamboo. Bamboo, which grows naturally in Northeast India, is one of the world’s most rapidly-growing sources of biomass, and its chemical composition is similar to hardwood. Bamboo is an ideal raw material for producing clean, renewable energy, biofuels, and biochemicals.

The biorefinery will include equipment for bamboo chipping and storage, as well as for processing with the unique formicobio-technology developed by Chempolis. A power plant will also be constructed in conjunction with the refinery to produce heat and power from the residual fractions generated by the biorefining process.

Chempolis’s partners have chosen the Chempolis 3G formicobio-technology because it offers a more economically sustainable and environmentally friendly biorefining process than competitors’ 2G technologies.

The benefits of the formicobio-technology derive from the selective fractioning of the biomass. Chempolis’s patented technology produces a greater yield of marketable products, and its operating costs are lower because the hydrolysis of clean cellulose requires only small quantities of enzymes.

The Chempolis formicobio-technology technology consists of the following main components:

  • bamboo chips are fractionated into their components 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

The biorefining process at the Numaligarh plant will be extremely environmentally friendly. When the Chempolis formicobio-technology is used to produce ethanol, the bamboo is processed entirely into usable products, and the biorefining process does not use food-crop raw materials. The facility’s biosolvent and water are also recycled, minimizing emissions to waterways. The biosolvent used in the process consists solely of biodegradable components that occur in nature. The technology also provides the opportunity for bamboo ash to be used as fertilizer.

In addition, the plant’s biorefining process allows it to be a net supplier of energy, resulting in minimal carbon emissions for the plant.