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Clariant completes tests of miscanthus-to-ethanol conversion technology

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Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant has successfully completed tests of technology that converts miscanthus biomass into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.

Around 30 tons of miscanthus was provided by Croatian oil and gas company INA, having been harvested and baled at the INA demonstration site in Croatia in February 2019. The feedstock was then shipped for processing to Clariant’s pre-commercial sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany for conversion.

The technology tests have received funding under the GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal land for biorEfineries (GRACE) project – of which INA is a consortium member – which is supported by the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The project aims to optimise various miscanthus value chains in order to produce sustainable products, as well as to develop miscanthus as a sustainable feedstock resource for cultivation on marginal, contaminated and abandoned land.

As part of this, the GRACE consortium asked Clariant to run tests of miscanthus as a feedstock for the production of lignocellulose sugars and ethanol. Final results have shown that the company’s sunliquid technology can convert miscanthus biomass into the two desired end products.

“We are very pleased to work with renowned partners such as INA and other GRACE consortium members,” commented Markus Rarbach, head of the biofuels and derivatives business line at Clariant. “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.”

“As the bioethanol demonstration case leader of the EU-funded GRACE project, we are satisfied with the testing results,” added Stjepan Nikolić, operating director of refining and marketing at INA. “These results are a push towards further development of a bio-based value chain and a circular bio-economy for further commercial conditions.”

Miscanthus, which is also known as elephant grass of China reed, has proven to be an interesting option for the production of lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol, used in the production of biofuels.