Gevo, Praj to commercialize renewable fuels in India

By Gevo Inc. | April 10, 2019

Gevo Inc. announced April 9 that it has signed a binding, definitive construction license agreement with Praj Industries Ltd., dated April 4, to commercialize the production of renewable isobutanol using sugary-based feedstocks, such as juice, syrup and molasses made of sugarcane and sugar beets (the construction license agreement).  Pursuant to the construction license agreement, Praj will provide engineering procurement and construction services to certain third party customers using a process design package that incorporates Gevo’s proprietary isobutanol biocatalyst and is designed for use with sugary-based feedstocks (the PDP).  The PDP is jointly owned by Gevo and Praj.  Gevo has granted a license to Praj that would allow Praj to provide such services to certain third party customers.

In addition, Gevo also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Praj Industries Ltd. to commercialize Gevo’s renewable hydrocarbons products in India, including Gevo’s renewable alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ) and renewable isooctane, derived from Gevo’s renewable isobutanol.  The MOU contemplates two phases.  In phase one, Praj will implement a pilot plant in Indiafor the purpose of introducing Gevo’s technology to potential customers.  Following phase one, Praj and Gevo expect to enter into a commercial license agreement for the production of renewable hydrocarbons. Together, Gevo and Praj expect to use a combination of their respective technologies for the conversion of sugars to renewable hydrocarbon products.

“Praj is a company that shares our vision of the utilization of renewable resources and renewable energy to decarbonize transportation fuels,” said Patrick R. Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “India already has a biofuel mandate primarily focused on ethanol.  With Gevo’s technology and Praj’s execution, ethanol can become substituted with isobutanol and drop-in gasoline.  Gevoexpects to leverage Praj’s Enfinity technology to produce second generation drop-in hydrocarbons utilizing Gevo’s existing technology that has already been proven.  We expect to scale up quickly and be ready for the Indian market as early as 2020.”

Gruber continued, “We have a longstanding partnership with Praj and this strengthening of our businesses helps us both continue with our shared vision of low-carbon fuels made from sugars in high yields. These types of visions can help benefit the world.”

Pramod Chaudhari, executive chairman of Praj, added, “the addition of  isobutanol technology to Praj’s diverse product portfolio is a step in our endeavor towards smart biorefineries that facilitate sustainable decarbonization.  This solution can be offered both as a ‘bolt-on’ to an existing ethanol plant or as a Greenfield plant. We value our partnership with Gevo and believe that this technology will help the aviation industry fulfill its obligation of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction.”

The construction license agreement is the product of the joint development agreement and development license agreement that Gevo and Praj entered into in November 2015.  Pursuant to those agreements, Praj adapted Gevo’s technology to use sugar cane and molasses feedstocks. Praj is a global leader in providing engineering, procurement and construction, or EPC, services to the ethanol industry.  The Construction License Agreement will allow Praj to leverage its extensive customer base to identify customers interested in licensing Gevo’s technology to produce isobutanol utilizing the PDP.  Gevo’s partnership with Praj provides Gevo with access to markets outside of North America that utilize sugar-based feedstocks not prevalent in North America, particularly in regions such as India, Southeast Asia, Australia, South America and even parts of Europe where sugar beets are processed.

In connection with the construction license agreement, Gevo and Praj have also entered into a new joint development agreement and a new development license agreement, dated April 4, to continue their joint development efforts to produce isobutanol using sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, sugar beet juice, sugar beet syrup, sugar beet molasses, sugar beet pulp, cassava, rice, wheat, sorghum, bagasse, rice straw, wheat straw, corn stover, cotton stalk and empty fruit bunches (collectively, the development agreements).  In particular, Gevo and Praj are nearing the completion of work to develop a process design package to use agricultural residues, such as empty fruit bunches, wheat straw, rice straw or corn stover, to produce isobutanol.  These second generation biomass feedstocks are the lowest cost feedstocks in some markets and have the additional benefit of having a very low carbon footprint.  The use of agricultural residues as a feedstock to produce isobutanol should provide Gevofeedstock optionality in markets that are targeting decarbonization from second generation forms of biomass.