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Chempolis, Fortum, and Numaligarh Refinery break ground on biorefinery

In India, a global joint venture (JV) with Fortum 3 BV, a subsidiary of Finland-headed energy major Fortum Oyj, compatriot biorefining technology developer Chempolis Oy and Indian state-owned oil refinery company Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) have held a ground-breaking ceremony for Assam Bio Refinery Pvt Ltd. The ceremony marks construction start of a first-of-its-kind bamboo-based biorefinery in Assam.

On February 9, 2019, a groundbreaking and foundation stone laying ceremony was held in Assam, India for the first-of-its-kind Assam Bio Refinery Pvt Ltd advanced biofuels plant. A joint venture between Fortum, Chempolis and Numaligarh Refinery, the biorefinery will use bamboo to produce cellulosic ethanol, biochemicals, and biocoal (photo courtesy Fortum).

The foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on February 9, 2019, and the ceremony marks construction start of the project which was first announced in May 2018. The construction of the refinery is expected to be completed by June 2021.

As part of this venture, Fortum and Chempolis will invest in 50 percent equity stake, while Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), a joint venture of Assam Government, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd holds a majority 50 percent. The first-of-its-kind biorefinery will be based on the “formicobio” technology developed by Chempolis.

I am very happy that the project has been moving on and construction procedures can be now started, said Dr Juha Anttila, Vice President and CTO at Chempolis and responsible for the engineering of the biorefinery.

Cellulosic ethanol, biochemicals, and biocoal

The key feedstock for the biorefinery is bamboo while the main product is cellulosic ethanol that will be sold to NRL as a gasoline blendstock. In addition, biorefinery will produce other biochemicals and biocoal as part of the process.

The biocoal will be used in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant to produce heat and power to the biorefinery. Excess power will be sold to NRL’s oil refinery where it will replace fossil electricity production.

According to Fortum, its “Bio2X” programme investigates new business opportunities with fractioning-based technologies and end-products of the process. The company is currently testing several different fractioning methods and has co-operation projects with different parties to test the end products of different methods.

The Assam Bio Refinery project is part of Fortum’s Bio2X research and development programme.

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