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.