Those of you who have been following the biofuels industry world over will know that ethanol derived from cellulosic sources are expected to be the future of ethanol.
Unlike algae fuels, which are still very much in research stage, cellulosic ethanol is in late pilot stage and some consider it close to commercialization.
While cellulosic ethanol is indeed a promising concept, things are not going on smooth for the industry. Many of the companies that have betted big on this industry are yet to get to a stage where they can start supplying commercial quantities from their plants. This delay can be attributed both to technological bottlenecks as well as funding bottlenecks.
I was curious to know the status of cellulosic ethanol in India, and did an hour of googling. Must say was quite disappointed to see few efforts in this direction. Am providing some web resources/updates on the same:
1. Here is a TreeHugger report from 2008. “Developed by Godavari Sugar Mills Ltd in Sameerwadi, Karnataka, the biorefinery will use sugarcane bagasse (the fiber which is left over after the juice has been pressed out) to produce ethanol. The project, which is being undertaken in cooperation with the National Chemical Laboratory, a lab associated with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, hopes to be able to process about 5,000 tonnes of raw material within four years.” Link
2. This is from Feb 2009: “Praj said that the production team at its pilot cellulosic ethanol plant at Praj Matrix near Pune, and had successfully demonstrated CE production from corn stover and sugarcane bagasse.” Link
3. This from Jan 2009: “Novel lignocellulosic ethanol process operates in India – Perth, Australia-based Mission NewEnergy Ltd. has joined the list of cellulosic ethanol developers. The company announced in November that its pilot facility, built through a joint venture with a scientific team in India, has successfully produced cellulosic ethanol from agricultural wastes using a novel conversion process. Located in northern India, the pilot plant has a batch process capacity of 10,000 gallons per year.” Link
So, just three companies: Godavari Sugar Mills, Praj (this was a company I did expect to be in this list) and Mission Biofuels. Very few, in my opinion.
Do you know of any other significant commercial / research efforts in India on cellulosic ethanol. If you do, please let me know by leaving a comment, will you?