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02.09.2019

Clariant successfully concludes testing of energy crop miscanthus at Straubing plant for GRACE project

  • INA has chosen Clariant’s sunliquid® technology to assess usability of miscanthus for conversion into lignocellulosic sugars & ethanol within the EU-funded GRACE project in which INA participates
  • About 30 tons of miscanthus were processed at Clariant’s pre-commercial plant in Straubing, Germany 
  • sunliquid proved good performance with miscanthus feedstock during testing

Clariant (IBB network member) announced today that it has conducted tests on approximately 30 tons of miscanthus provided by INA, Croatia’s leading oil and gas company. The miscanthus biomass was harvested and baled at the INA demonstration site in Croatia in February this year and shipped for processing to Clariant’s pre-commercial sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany for conversion into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

INA is a consortium member of the publicly funded project “GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries” (GRACE www.grace-bbi.eu). The GRACE project has received funding from the „Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking“(BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The consortium consists of 22 partners from universities, the agricultural sector and the industry.

The aims and objectives of the project are to optimize various miscanthus value chains, to produce sustainable products with a strong market potential and to develop miscanthus as a sustainable feedstock resource for cultivation on marginal, contaminated and abandoned land. Against this background, Clariant was asked by the GRACE consortium to run tests of miscanthus as a feedstock for the production of lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

Final results prove that the sunliquid technology can successfully convert miscanthus biomass into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol, confirming the benefits of the sugar process platform. Thanks to the flexible sunliquid process design, lignocellulosic sugars can be generated as an intermediate product that have the potential to serve as a building block for future production of bio-based chemicals. Making further use of Clariant’s proprietary enzyme platform for feedstock specific enzymes can finally open up the full potential of this promising energy crop.

“We are very pleased to work with renowned partners such as INA and other GRACE consortium members. These feedstock tests constitute an important milestone for Clariant. It is for the first time that we tested miscanthus – a high yielding and robust energy crop - in our pre-commercial plant in Straubing. Once again, this showed the flexibility and efficiency of the sunliquid technology platform when it comes to different lignocellulosic feedstock”, emphasizes Dr. Markus Rarbach, Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives at Clariant.

“As the bioethanol demonstration case leader of the EU-funded GRACE project, we are satisfied with the testing results. These results are a push towards further development of a bio-based value chain and a circular bio-economy for further commercial conditions”, said Stjepan Nikolić, Operating Director of Refining and Marketing at INA.

This demonstrates that miscanthus, also known as elephant grass or China reed, proves itself as an interesting feedstock option for the production of lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol. Once cultivated in marginal lands, the plant grows rapidly over 15-20 years as a permanent crop, has a low mineral content and offers a high yield per hectare. Pesticides and fertilizers are not required on a yearly basis, which further adds to miscanthus’ ecological benefits.

Over the past seven years Clariant’s pre-commercial plant has also demonstrated cellulosic ethanol production on agricultural residues such as corn stover, sugarcane bagasse and straw as well as wheat, barley and rice straw. In the fall of last year, Clariant broke ground on its greenfield first-of-its-kind full-scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Podari, the southwestern region of Romania. The new plant, with an annual production capacity of 50.000 tons, will be a flagship site, confirming competitiveness and sustainability of the sunliquid technology at commercial scale thus supporting Clariant’s sunliquid licensing business strategy.

www.clariant.com

Clariant is a focused and innovative specialty chemical company, based in Muttenz near Basel/Switzerland. On 31 December 2018 the company employed a total workforce of 17,901. In the financial year 2018, Clariant recorded sales of CHF 4.404 billion for its continuing businesses. The company reports in three business areas: Care Chemicals, Catalysis and Natural Resources. Clariant’s corporate strategy is based on five pillars: focus on innovation and R&D, add value with sustainability, reposition portfolio, intensify growth, and increase profitability.

www.sunliquid.com

sunliquid® is an innovative biotechnological method for manufacturing cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues such as cereal straw, corn stover or sugarcane bagasse. In the completely integrated process, highly optimized, raw material-specific biocatalysts decompose cellulose and hemicellulose in high yields under stable processing conditions into fermentable sugar. The process-integrated production of the biocatalysts offers flexibility and reduces production costs. In the next step, an optimized fermentation organism simultaneously converts C5 and C6 into ethanol with high yields and short reaction times. A highly optimized purification process is instrumental in enabling all the energy required for the process to be derived from the process byproducts like insoluble lignin. The resulting cellulosic ethanol saves around 95% of CO2 emissions when compared to fossil gasoline. Since July 2012, Clariant has been operating a precommercial plant in Straubing, which produces up to 1,000 metric tons of cellulosic ethanol every year, confirming technical and economic performance. Clariant licenses the sunliquid® technology platform globally. The first license was sold in September 2017. Clariant also announced investment into a first-of-its kind commercial facility in Romania, where groundbreaking took place in September 2018.

SUNLIQUID® IS A TRADEMARK OF CLARIANT REGISTERED IN MANY COUNTRIES.

www.ina.hr

INA Group has the leading role in Croatian oil business and a significant regional role in oil and gas exploration and production, oil processing, and the distribution of oil and oil derivatives. INA Group consists of several affiliated entities, entirely or partially owned by INA, d.d. The Group is based in Zagreb, Croatia. Apart from Croatia, INA currently has business operations in the segment of oil and gas exploration and production in Angola and Egypt. The oil is processed at INA’s oil refineries in Rijeka and Sisak, while INA’s regional retail network consists of 500 retail sites in Croatia and the neighboring countries. INA Group is a member of MOL Group.

Source: Clariant

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