India aggressively pusues ethanol, converts distilleries

U.S. based ethanol industry suppliers get involved early
By | February 01, 2002
Energy-hungry India is attracting top international ethanol industry suppliers and service providers to its shores. Design-builder Delta-T Corporation, and enzyme providers Novozymes and Genencor International are among several companies already doing business in India.

Meanwhile, the conference division at BBI International is working with Indian producers and government officials to plan an ethanol conference in India, as the nation is encouraging the use of five percent ethanol blends nationwide.

India's ethanol is made from both sugarcane and tropical sugar beets. Shanta Kumar, the nation's food minister, has publicly stated that the government may give low-interest loans to sugar mills so they can purchase ethanol manufacturing equipment. Already, Indian sugar factories are setting up new distilleries and upgrading plants in preparation for an ethanol boom.

According to Reuters English News Service, India has about 450 sugar mills, but only 125-130 units have distilleries to produce alcohol. The nation produces 1.3 billion liters of alcohol per year, which is largely consumed by chemical and alcohol-based industries. India is Asia's largest sugar producer and currently has an excess distilling capacity, officials said.

Similar to the oversupply problems sugar beet growers are facing in the United States and Mexico, sugar producers in India are struggling to manage "mountains" of sugar stock and have high expectations for the nation's ethanol plan.

Praj Industries looks to U.S. molsieve technology
PRAJ Industries, Ltd. has tied up with U.S.-based Delta-T Corporation to sell dehydration units to alcohol distilleries in order to produce fuel ethanol.

Under a licensing agreement with Delta-T, Praj Industries will sell molecular sieve dehydration plants that will produce 99.8 percent pure anhydrous ethanol. The plants will be able to produce ethanol from both cane molasses and grains, allowing it to operate on a variety of feedstocks throughout the year, according to Praj Managing Director Pramod Chaudhari.

Tropical sugar beet patent
Furthermore, Praj Industries has started the process of filing for a patent for its sugar-to-ethanol technology, which reportedly by-passes the production of sugar in the first stage. The company, which specializes in developing alcohol technology, is stepping up its work in the area of research and development.

"Sugar beet has a growth cycle of five months as opposed to the 12-month cycle of cane sugar," Chaudhari said in a company statement last month. "(Tropical sugar beet) has more sugar in it and it requires less water for cultivation (than sugar cane)."

Chaudhari has pointed out that sugar factories could use the crop to extend the crushing season which is often curtailed prematurely due to non-availability of sugarcane. Praj Industries is preparing to start a research and development effort on the project, which could start showing results by next year. Chaudhari said the company, which has been on a downtrend since 1999, is now on the turnaround path. The license agreement with Delta-T is expected to add at least 30 percent to the company's turnover in the first year.

Enzyme business
U.S.-based enzyme-producing competitors Novozymes and Genencor International both have significant interest in the developing India ethanol industry, officials from both companies confirmed.

Novozymes is making a "significant effort to develop the ethanol market in India," a company spokesperson said. In fact, one of the company's Indian employees recently spent 6 months training with its ethanol technical team in the U.S., visiting many accounts and learning the North American ethanol market.

BBI plans world biofuelsconference in India

Colorado-based BBI International, organizer of the 2001 World Fuel Ethanol Congress in Beijing, will team up with the Confederation of India Industries (CII), during the last quarter of 2002 to present a world biofuels conference in New Delhi, India, said Angela Graf, BBI International director of conferences and international development."

"The conference will focus on the development of a biofuels industry in India, including ethanol blended fuels, biodiesel and ethanol-diesel blends," Graf said. n

For more information on the conference, contact Angela Graf at BBI International, 719-942-4353 or