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Versalis restarts biomass power plant at Crescentino biorefinery and expects bioethanol production later this year

In Italy, Versalis S.p.A, a subsidiary of compatriot oil, gas, and energy major Eni S.p.A, has announced that all the plants at Crescentino biorefinery complex will be up and running by the first half of 2020. Acquired by Versalis in November 2018 from the Mossi & Ghisolfi Group bankruptcy, the plant is designed for industrial-scale production of bioethanol and has been given a EUR 15 million upgrade and overhaul.

In 2013, Beta Renewables officially opened its EUR 150 million industrial-scale second-generation ethanol plant in Crescentino, province of Vercelli, Italy. The plant EPC was carried out by Biochemtex, and is based entirely on the PROESA technology, also developed by Biochemtex. The plant design capacity was to produce up to 60 000 tonne-per-annum of ethanol from 270 000 tonnes of biomass as well as electricity to the grid. The assets and resources of Biochemtex and Beta Renewables were acquired by Versalis in November 2018 (photo courtesy Beta Renewables).

The biomass power plant for renewable electricity generation and part of the water treatment plant (WWTP) with biogas production have already been restarted and activities are ongoing to restart the bioethanol plant within the first half of 2020. The plant uses the PROESA proprietary technology, which Eni says is “one of the most innovative in the biomass chemistry sector.”

The layout of the Crescentino plants makes it possible to use a system to completely recycle all water and also makes the site completely energy independent through the use of lignin as feedstock for the power plant.

Working on a complete biochemical palate

The Versalis Biotech Research Centres at Rivalta Scrivia, Alessandria and Novara are currently working on further developments in the production of a complete range of fermentative renewable products such as bio-oils for biorefinery, totally biodegradable polymers, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), intermediates for biopolymers and biochemicals, all made from second-generation sugars produced with the PROESA technology. They are also carrying out trials on developing lignin for new market applications.

Crescentino is a strategic site that will strengthen Versalis’ competitive position in the renewable chemicals sector with the aim of developing a totally integrated and sustainable platform, using only residual biomass that does not compete with the food chain, said Daniele Ferrari, CEO of Versalis (Eni) in a statement.

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