Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, chose Romania to invest in a new full-scale commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues using its sunliquid technology, a press release informs.
The new plant, with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons, will be a flagship site and will be built in the southwestern part of the country. The project receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for research, technological development and demonstration under Grant Agreement no. 322386 and from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The Swiss-based chemical giant does not specify the value of the investment.
“Clariant is continually investing in the development of sustainable products and innovative solutions 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. It is a further illustration of Clariant’s successful innovation strategy, as this technology provides additional growth potential to an already strong portfolio”, says Christian Kohlpaintner, Member of the Executive Committee at Clariant.
To further focus on the commercialization of bio-ethanol, licenses and enzymes, Clariant has set-up a new Business Line Biofuels & Derivatives, as part of the Business Area Catalysis. As of January 2018, all activities and costs related to the sunliquid technology platform will be transferred from Corporate Costs to the Business Line Biofuels & Derivatives.
Next steps are detailed engineering studies before the ground breaking and start of construction, which is planned for 2018. The plant is anticipated to deliver its first batch of product in 2020. Peak sales from the sunliquid cellulosic ethanol plant are expected to be in the mid double-digit million range.
At full capacity, the new plant will process approximately 250,000 tons of wheat straw and other cereal straw annually, which will be sourced from local farmers. Co-products from the process will be used for the generation of renewable energy with the goal of making the plant independent from fossil energy sources. Therefore, the resulting cellulosic ethanol is an almost carbon neutral advanced biofuel.
Cellulosic ethanol is an advanced and truly sustainable biofuel which is almost carbon neutral. It is produced from agricultural residue such as wheat straw and corn stover that is obtained from farmers. The straw is converted into cellulosic sugars followed by fermentation of cellulosic sugars to cellulosic ethanol. By using agricultural residue, cellulosic ethanol can extend current biofuels production to new feedstocks and improved performance. Cellulosic sugars also have the potential to serve as a building block for future production of bio-based chemicals.