Chempolis signs agreement for bamboo ethanol project in India

By Erin Voegele | October 17, 2014

On Oct. 15, Finland-based Chempolis Ltd. announced it has signed a partnership agreement with Numaligarh Refinery Ltd., an enterprise of the Indian government, to build a cellulosic ethanol and chemical production facility in Assam, India. The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed by the two companies in September. 

According to information released by Chempolis, the proposed facility will convert bamboo feedstock into cellulosic ethanol, and biobased furfural and acetic acid. The facility will utilize Chempolis’ formicobio technology, a biorefining technology based on selective fractionation of biomass and coproduction of multiple products. The facility is currently expected to take 2.5 years to develop.

“This agreement is one important step to approach the national policy on biofuels announced by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India in 2009 that targets 20 percent blending of bio fuels in diesel and petrol by 2017,” said Pasi Rousu, president APAC.  

Navin Singhania, president of Chempolis India, said, “Bamboo is an important raw material in north-east region of India accounting 66 percent of the country’s bamboo resources. This agreement aiming at utilization of bamboo is completely in line with objectives of India. According to Economic Times bamboo industry is estimated to reach U.S. $5.7 billion in the near future. For NRL production of fuel grade ethanol will result in substantial savings, in addition, this project is expected to have minimal carbon footprint.”

P. Padmanabhan, managing director of NRL, said “This project would enable cultivation of bamboo on a commercially sustainable basis and would boost rural economy of the region.”

The proposed project is not the first cellulosic ethanol agreement Chempolis has pursued in India. In Oct, 2013, the company signed an MOU with ONGC, India’s leading oil and gas exploration company. At that time, the MOU with ONGC was described as a road map to the first biorefinery project in in India.