Chempolis, the Finnish energy company Fortum, and NRL, a state-owned Indian oil company, have formed a joint venture to construct a pioneering biorefinery in the state of Assam in Northeast India. It will be the first biorefinery in the world producing cellulosic ethanol and bio based chemicals from bamboo.
Chempolis is the licensor of the plant’s advanced technology and is providing technical expertise. Fortum’s investment in the joint venture will expand its activities in India to include bio-based products. NRL is responsible for the facility’s operations.
Construction work has started and is proceeding according the plans. The target date for beginning operations at the site in the town of Numaligarh is set for the year 2021.
The biorefinery will use 300 000 tons of bamboo annually from the vast natural and cultivated bamboo reserves of Northeast India. The plant will produce annually 60 million liters of bioethanol, 19 000 tons of furfural, 11 000 tons of acetic acid, and 144 gigawatt hours of green energy.
The plant’s central processes will be based on Chempolis’s patented formicobio technology. Chempolis’s competitive technological advantage is a higher refining value from biomass, such as a better yield of ethanol as well as clean, marketable by-products, such as furfural and acetic acid. At the same time, the technology offers lower operating costs and, being energy net-positive, is environmentally friendly.
The joint venture’s biorefinery will be built in conjunction with NRL’s oil refinery, which has been operating in the area for 18 years. India’s Ministry of Environment issued an environmental permit for the biorefinery in November 2017.
Special consideration is being made for the sustainable procurement of bamboo from four different Indian states. 53 million tons of bamboo grows in Northeast India, of which 8 million tons is utilized. The raw material required for the biorefinery is approximately 1% of the bamboo growing in the region. The biorefinery will source bamboo from local suppliers, increasing economic wellbeing in the region.