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Biomass Technology

Clariant converts INA’s miscanthus into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

Miscanthus, also known as elephant grass or China reed, has been converted into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

“These results are a push towards further development of a bio-based value chain and a circular bioeconomy for further commercial conditions.”

Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant has converted miscanthus provided by INA, a Croatian oil and gas firm, into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

In a statement, Clariant announced that it had successfully conducted tests on around 30 tons of miscanthus provided by INA to test its usability for conversation into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol. Clariant processed this miscanthus at its pre-commercial sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany.

INA is a consortium member of the publicly funded project ‘Growing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries’ (GRACE).

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 bioeconomy industry.

Clariant (@clariant) said it was asked by the GRACE consortium to run tests of miscanthus as a feedstock for the production of lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

According to Clariant, 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.

Dr. Markus Rarbach, Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives at Clariant, said: “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.”

Stjepan Nikolić, Operating Director of Refining and Marketing at INA, added: “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 bioeconomy for further commercial conditions.”

Clariant praised miscanthus, also known as elephant grass or China reed, and described it 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 fertilisers are not required on a yearly basis, which further adds to miscanthus’ ecological benefits, according to Clariant.

The company said that its pre-commercial plant had demonstrated cellulosic ethanol production on agricultural residues such as corn stover, sugarcane bagasse and straw as well as wheat, barley and rice straw, over the past seven years.

In autumn of last year, Clariant broke ground 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, the company said.


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