Pune-based Praj Industries, a process, and project engineering company, recently signed a cooperation agreement with Sekab E-Technology AB, a Swedish cleantech company, to upgrade and commercialize base technology to produce advanced biofuels and biochemicals from forest residue as feedstock.
According to the company’s statement, Praj will extend its platform to Sekab’s CelluAPP technology to convert forest residue in the form of softwood to ethanol. CelluAPP technology platform helps to extract cellulose sugars and lignin from forest or agricultural residues.
The company stated that the cooperation between the two firms would enable comprehensive, advanced biofuel solutions for the Nordic countries, the United States, Canada, and other countries where the surplus residues from the forest, is in abundance.
“The Praj-Sekab partnership will facilitate carbon dioxide reduction by offering bio-mobility solutions for the transportation industry in the form of advanced biofuel produced from softwood,” it added.
Pramod Chaudhari, executive chairman, Praj, said, “This agreement will provide a strong platform to service emerging opportunities in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as well as renewable chemicals, strengthening India’s position in the advanced biofuel market globally.”
He further added that this association with Sekab, one of Europe’s leading chemical and environmental technology companies, will help fulfill Renewable Energy-Recast (RED-II) mandate and low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).
In RED II, the European Union’s target for the consumption of renewable energy sources by 2030 has been raised to 32%.
Tomas Nilsson, CEO, Sekab, said, “Renewable chemicals and biofuels made from renewable ethanol instead of fossil oil play an important role in a fossil-free future. Customers’ interest in renewable chemicals and biofuels has increased significantly in recent years.”
Ethanol is a cleaner alternative to fossil-based fuels, which is manufactured from the conversion of carbon-based feedstocks such as sugarcane, switchgrass, corn, and barley.
Last year in October, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in India approved the review of guidelines for granting authorization to market transportation fuels. Earlier, it was mandatory for companies seeking authorization to commit at least ₹20 billion (~$282.8 million). Now, the entities only need to have a net worth of ₹2.5 billion (~$35.2 million).
In a country like India, where its agrarian sector fuels the overall economic growth, biofuels assume great significance in light of the country’s ambitious goals of doubling farmers’ income, import reduction, employment generation, and waste-to-wealth creation. Acknowledging the importance of abundant resources for biofuel in the country, the union cabinet approved the National Policy on Biofuels 2018.