A Finnish solution to India’s diesel dilemma

September 20th, 2012 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Helsinki, Sep 20 (IANS) Even as the whole of India is up in arms at the hike in the diesel price, new technology offers hope of a cheaper alternative by refining agricultural waste and using it to generate fuel.

Chempolis, a Finnish company, has developed the technology that could go a long way in solving the fuel crisis, called the third generation or 3G biorefining technology. India, with its increasing population and dependence on imported fossil energy sources, offers a huge market for this product.

“We are negotiating for cooperation with Indian companies to establish commercial scale biorefinery projects in India,” Paula Paananen, Chempolis’s director for environment and communications, told a visiting IANS correspondent here.

The company has patented biorefining technologies to refine residual agricultural biomasses into high quality products, including fuel, while minimising, what it claimed, environmental impact, and maximising social benefits.

According to Pasi Rousu, president of Chempolis Asia-Pacific, the technology has huge business potential in India as the country has a wealth of biomasses that could be used more efficiently, bagasse (the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane, for instance, is crushed) and straws having the most potential.

Stating that the need for renewable energy, both transportation fuel and electricity, is very large in India, Rousu said in a statement: “If only 30 percent of straws and bagasse is utilised, there is potential for profitable biorefining of 120 million tonnes per annum of straws and bagasse into 40 million tonnes of bioethanol, biodiesel and biochemicals. This equals 200-600 biorefineries while the production could replace completely gasoline by ethanol and reduce imports of crude oil by more than 25 percent.”

According to Paananen, setting up a biorefinery costs anywhere between 30 and 40 million euros (approixately Rs. 200 crore, at least).

“Fifteen to 50 million tonnes of ethanol can be produced in a year by one biorefinery,” she said, adding that carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 50 million tonnes a year.

Asked where in India she saw the most potential for the technology, she said: “We have identified Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as ideal for Chempolis techonology-based biorefineries.”

According to Paananen, India’s minister for new and renewable energy, Farooq Abdullah, had shown keen interest in the technology during a visit to the company plant at Oulu in Finland in 2011.

“The minister has, in fact, invited Chempolis to meet him in India,” she said, adding that her company is planning commercial biorefinry production in India by setting up a subsidiary.

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