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Sapporo licenses Thai firm to produce cassava-based ethanol

Japanese brewer Sapporo Holding has licensed Thailand-based fuel retailer PTG Energy to manufacture cassava-based bioethanol.

The Nikkei Asian Review quoted Sapporo, when it said that “this will mark the world's first attempt at commercial production of ethanol from the pulp of the cassava, a plentiful Thai crop whose tuberous root is used to make tapioca”.

Innotech will use Sapporo's technology in producing ethanol from cassava pulp at a new plant scheduled to start operating in 2020.

PTG president and CEO Pitak Ratchakitprakarn said the project will synergise strengths among the partners from upstream to downstream, with Eiamburapa providing cassava pulp, Sapporo offering technology for fermenting pulp to produce bioethanol for making gasohol, and PTG distributing the output.

Sapporo's fermentation technology will turn cassava pulp, which is discarded at present, into a valuable raw material, enabling ethanol production at a lower cost than from molasses, Ratchakitprakarn added.

The new ethanol plant, budgeted at 1.5 billion baht and capable of producing 200,000 litres per day, will be built in Sa Kaeo province in eastern Thailand.

PTG plans to double the capacity to 400,000 litres in 2021-22 by setting up a second plant at the same location.

PTG currently requires up to 470,000 litres of ethanol per day and the need is expected to grow 35% to 1.15 million litres in 2020, according to Ratchakitprakarn.

Thailand aims to increase ethanol consumption to 11.3 million litres per day in 2036 from the current level of 3.5-3.6 million litres, according to the country's alternative energy development plan.