Joint venture formed to develop cellulosic biorefinery in China

By Erin Voegele | July 29, 2014

A joint venture of an M&G Chemicals subsidiary and China-based Anhui Guozhen Co. Ltd. has been created to develop a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Fuyang City, Anhui Province, China. The project was first announced in late 2013.  

The plant will be developed by Anhui M&G Guozhen Green Refinery Co. Ltd., a Sino-foreign joint venture of M&G International S.à.r.l, a wholly owned subsidiary of M&G Chemicals, and Anhui Guozhen Co. Ltd. The joint venture will employ Proesa technology licensed by Beta Renewables to convert agricultural residues into cellulosic ethanol, glycols and other coproducts. M&G owns 70 percent of the joint venture, with Guozhen holding a 30 percent share. The companies expect to announce a second joint venture soon that will focus on the conversion of lignin coproduct into steam and electricity. The cogeneration plant developed by that joint venture is expected to have a capacity of approximately 45 MW

"I am excited about the completion of this first very important step towards the creation of the world largest second generation bio-refinery in Fuyang City and I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gouzhen management as well as the Fuyang City authorities for their partnership in this ground breaking and transformational enterprise,” said Marco Ghisolfi, CEO of M&G Chemicals.

Once operational, the plant will take in an estimated 970,000 to 1.3 million metric tons of agricultural residues as feedstock each year. In November 2013, Ethanol Producer Magazine Biomass Magazine reported that the facility is expected to process approximately four times the volume of feedstock as Berta Renewable’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. That 13 MMgy facility, located in Crescentino, Italy, began operations in October 2013.

The proposed plant in China is expected to be operational in 2016. Novozymes will supply enzymes to the plant while Guozhen will supply biomass feedstock under a long-term fixed price agreement. In late 2013, Novozymes also indicated it would provide the project with $35 million in financial support. M&G Chemical previously estimated the plant would take approximately $500 million to develop.

Beta Renewables is a joint venture of Biochemtex, a company in the Mossi Ghisolfi Group, U.S. private equity fund TPG and Danish enzyme producer Novozymes. M&G Chemicals is also an affiliate of the Mossi Ghisolfi Group. The China facility is not the only proposed plant that has announced its intent to utilize Proesa technology. In December 2013, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced that Biochemtex plans to build a cellulosic ethanol plant that utilizes Proesa technology within the state.