Praj Industries: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

5-Minute-Guide-logoHaving established a global leadership in 1st Generation Ethanol technology, Praj has initiated a project in expanding its 2nd Generation Cellulosic Ethanol Program to Demo scale. The plant will utilize agri-residues like cane trash, corn cobs, corn stover and bagasse to produce ethanol to be blended with petrol. Praj has successfully evaluated this technology at pilot scale.

Praj has well equipped manufacturing facilities – one in Pune and two at Kandla (Gujarat), port of India and another at Wada near Mumbai. The units are accredited with ASME ‘U’ and ‘H’ stamps and ISO 9001-2008. Equipment engineering and fabrication is in accordance with international standards and codes. Praj has recently come up with a world class manufacturing facility for its Industrial Biotech products and Processes (IBPP). Praj employs more than 1000 professionals in India and overseas from various engineering and other disciplines.

With a slew of new initiatives, Praj aspires to be a major player in the environment, energy and agri process led applications providing innovative, integrated solutions including plant, equipment and products that will enhance the quality of life.

The company plans to drive growth through two focus areas – growth business and established business. The former will consist of 2nd Gen Ethanol, Water, Specialized Process Equipment and High Purity applications in Pharma, Biotech as well as niche BioProducts. The established business will see further innovations in 1st gen ethanol and brewery plants.

Praj recently announced its entry into the biotech products business with launch of its livestock feed health & nutrition business. Other than this, Praj is also working with biochemicals and human health & nutrition products which are presently in different stages of development.

The backbone of Praj’s technology development is Praj Matrix, the Innovation Center. Praj Matrix is working on bioethanol and biochemicals processes.

The Situation:

Biobutanol came onto the table, when in March 2015 Gevo announced that Praj Industries Limited has signed a memorandum of understanding to become a Gevo licensee for producing renewable isobutanol at sugar-based ethanol plants.

Under the MOU, Praj will undertake to license up to 250 million gallons of isobutanol capacity for sugar-based ethanol plants over the next ten years. Gevo will market the isobutanol produced by Praj’s sub-licensees. Praj will also contribute process engineering and equipment services to expand isobutanol capacity at Gevo’s plant in Luverne, Minn, as well as to improve yields and optimize energy consumption at the facility.

Praj expected its demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Maharashtra to come online in 2014, but we’ve not heard about it lately and references beyond “ground-breaking” have been removed from the Praj website. . The facility was announced at 5 million liters per year to “demonstrate at commercial scale the technology it has developed at its pilot plant during the past four years. The company also expects to develop a similar sized demonstration plant outside of India as well.”


Technology developer.

Past milestones:

In January 2015, Praj Industries was contracted to build a 60,000 LPD project for production of fuel ethanol and premium grade extra neutral alcohol (beverage alcohol) by Kakira Sugars. Kakira Sugars is a leading sugar and power producer in Uganda. It is part of the diversified Madhvani Group, one of the largest private sector group in East Africa. The plant will process cane molasses from the Kakira Sugar Mill.

In December 2013, Purti Sugars signed a deal with Praj for them to develop a 30,000 liter per day second generation ethanol plant that will use bagasse, cotton waste and corn stover as feedstock. The plant will be the largest in Asia. Industry is currently pushing the government to implement an E10 policy.In June, the capacity was dropped to 15,000 liters per day.

In August 2013, Praj Industries broke ground on its integrated 2nd Generation Cellulosic ethanol plant. The 2G Cellulosic ethanol demo plant will operate on different variety of biomass with a capacity of 100 dry tonnes of biomass per day, which includes agricultural wastes such as corn stover, cobs and bagasse. The demo plant will enable Praj to consolidate its 6 years of R&D efforts, starting with laboratory trials to pilot scale trials. Praj expects the project cost to be in the region of $25M.

In January 2013, Praj announced a major order for an ethanol plant from Riopaila Castilla SA, a large conglomerate with interests in sugar production, confectionary, food processing, etc. The order worth $20 million includes state of the art process plant for production of 400,000 Liter per day of ethanol using sugar cane juice and molasses-B at their sugar plant at La Paila in the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia. The delivery is expected to be completed within one year.

In January 2012, Praj acquired a majority stake in Neela Systems Limited, a Mumbai-based company with interests in water treatment and Modular Process Systems for biotech, and life sciences, for $12.1 million Neela, which will continue to operate as an independent entity, has annual sales of $17 million.

Future milestones:

First commercial cellulosic ethanol plant.


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