November 19, 2010


Italy's Mossi & Ghisolfi to start up bioethanol plant in Q1 2012


Italian chemical group Mossi & Ghisolfi (M&G) aims to start up a 40,000-tonne second-generation bioethanol plant in Italy in the first quarter of 2012, then license its technology in the US, Brazil and China.


"We are aiming to start works by January 2011 and complete them by the end of 2011 or in early 2012. The plant should be operating by March 2012," said M&G Deputy Chairman Guido Ghisolfi.


The plant, to be built in the northern region of Piedmont, will use common cane and rice straw as feed stock, Ghisolfi said, adding the project has won key approvals from local authorities.


M&G has redrawn and scaled down its original plan to build a corn-fed bioethanol plant with a 200,000-tonne annual capacity and then convert it to using common cane as feed stock following a spike in commodities prices in 2008, Ghisolfi said.


The original project had also failed to secure approval of local authorities.


Second-generation technology uses non-food crops, such as common cane, and waste biomass to make biofuels.


Once the plant, which will also have a 12-megawatt capacity to produce electricity, is up and running, M&G plans to license its technology to US, Brazilian and Chinese biofuel producers.


"Talks to license plants in the US and Brazil are already underway, but everybody is waiting to see industrial results of this plant before signing deals. I expect to sign at least 20 licences in 2012," Ghisolfi added.


He said demand for the second-generation biofuel technology in the US was strong because it is cheaper than the existing first generation technology and does not use food crops such as corn. The new technology would considerably boost productivity of Brazilian bioethanol producers, global leaders, because it would help them extract plant cellulose from the parts of sugar cane, which are not used at present. Future plants are likely to have capacity of 100,000-150,000 tonnes, he added.


M&G's pilot second-generation plant with a 300-tonne annual capacity launched in Piedmont more than two years ago has helped the group to fine-tune the technology.


The EUR140 million (US$195.6 million) project, including EUR100 million (US$139.7 million) earmarked for the second generation biofuel technology and EUR40 million (US$55.9 million) for the power plant, has been jointly financed by M&G and the region of Piedmont, he said.

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