India gets cellulosic demonstration plant, new bioenergy plan

By Erin Voegele | November 08, 2012

India-based Praj Industries Ltd. has announced plans to develop a 10 million liter (2.64 million gallon) cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant. According to the company, the plant will demonstrate the technical and commercial and technical viability of its technology. In addition, the facility will enable the optimization of water and energy integration and their impact on capital expenditures and operational expenditures. In a statement, Praj also said the project will aid in the development of a value chain, including feedstock handling and feedstock characteristics, and the impact of these factor on operations.

According to Praj, the engineering package for the plant is complete and memorandum of understanding has been signed with a customer to secure the project’s location. Praj is in discussions with other strategic investors and partners for participation in the project.

Praj is scheduled to break ground on the demonstration facility in 2013. The total cost of the project is expected to range between $25 million and $30 million.

Information released by the company notes that the decision to scale up the technology to the demonstration level is the result of a rigorous four-year testing program, during which various feedstocks have been evaluated, including bagasse and corn cobs.

"The successful demonstration of various parameters at the demo-commercial plant will put Praj at the forefront of the biobased economy and in the race for commercial scale second generation biofuels,” said Pramod Chaudhari, executive chairman of Praj while delivering a welcome address at the recent F O Licht, World Ethanol Conference at Munich, Germany. “While this plant size is appropriate for emerging markets, with our past experience of quick scale up, it will be well within Praj's capability to scale the capacity even up to 10 times. I am pleased to say that Praj will be the first company in the tropics to set up such an integrated facility."

Praj’s announcement came the same day that the India Department of Biotechnology announced the development of a five-year plan for the development of innovative technologies and biofuel development. The plan, titled “The Bioenergy Road-Map—Vision 2020,” was released during the Bioenergy: Algae Biofuel & Synthetic Biology 2012 summit.

According to information released by the Indian government, experts and policymakers at the summit worked to identify the primary tasks that must be undertaken to accelerate the sustainable deployment of biofuels in India.




1 Responses

  1. Dr.A.Jagadeesh



    Hitherto Ethanol is produced from Sugarcane and Corn. There are alternatives. Agave has cellulose and alcohoil. Biofuel can be produced from Agave. Agave is a care-free growth plant. "The characteristics of the agave suit it well to bioenergy production, but also reveal its potential as a crop that is adaptable to future climate change,” adds University of Oxford plant scientist Andrew Smith. “In a world where arable land and water resources are increasingly scarce, these are key attributes in the food versus fuel argument, which is likely to intensify given the expected large-scale growth in biofuel production." Agave already appeared to be an interesting bio ethanol source due to its high sugar content and its swift growth. For the first time Researchers at the universities of Oxford and Sydney have now conducted the first life-cycle analysis of the energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of agave-derived ethanol and present their promising results in the journal Energy & Environmental Science. On both life cycle energy and GHG emissions agave scores at least as well as corn, switchgrass and sugarcane, while reaching a similar ethanol output. The big advantages agave has over the before mentioned plants is that it can grow in dry areas and on poor soil, thus practically eliminating their competition with food crops and drastically decreasing their pressure on water resources. Plants which use crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which include the cacti and Agaves, are of particular interest since they can survive for many months without water and when water is available they use it with an efficiency that can be more than 10 times that of other plants, such as maize, sorghum, miscanthus and switchgrass. CAM species include no major current or potential food crops; they have however for centuries been cultivated for alcoholic beverages and low-lignin fibres. They may therefore also be ideal for producing biofuels on land unsuited for food production. In México, there are active research programs and stakeholders investigating Agave spp. as a bioenergy feedstock. The unique physiology of this genus has been exploited historically for the sake of fibers and alcoholic beverages, and there is a wealth of knowledge in the country of México about the life history, genetics, and cultivation of Agave. The State of Jalisco is the denomination of origin of Agave tequilana Weber var. azul, a cultivar primarily used for the production of tequila that has been widely researched to optimize yields. Other cultivars of Agave tequilana are grown throughout México, along with the Agave fourcroydes Lem., or henequen, which is an important source of fiber that has traditionally been used for making ropes. The high sugar content of Agave tequilana may be valuable for liquid fuel production, while the high lignin content of Agave fourcroydes may be valuable for power generation through combustion. Along with Agave species described above, some other economically important species include A. salmiana, A. angustiana, A. americana, and A. sisalana. Agave sisalana is not produced in México, but has been an important crop in regions of Africa and Australia. Information collected here could thus be relevant to semi-arid regions around the world. Agave Competitive Advantages  Thrives on dry land/marginal land. Most efficient use of soil, water and light.  Massive production. Year-around harvesting.  Very high yields with very low or no inputs  Very high quality biomass and sugars  Very low cost of production. Not a commodity, so prices are not volatile  Very versatile: biofuels, byproducts, chemicals  World-wide geographical distribution  Enhanced varieties are ready In Vacant and waste lands in Developing countries Agave can be grown. Mexico is pioneer in this. Yet another option is Biogas from Opuntia and subsequent power generation. Opuntia is also a care-free growth plant. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India E-mail:


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