Domestic Players, MNCs Invest In Ethanol Plants

Pune, Aug 25: | Updated: Aug 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Petrol pump maybe a highly inflamable topic in the country at the moment but pumpgates not withstanding some perfectly legitimate money is waiting to be made in the business of doping ethanol with petrol. The process engineering industry in Pune has emerged as frontrunners in the business of setting up plants for making fuel ethanol.

With sale of five per cent ethanol-doped petrol, becoming mandatory from this year-end capacity creation for making fuel ethanol, is slated to pick up. About 10 factories, producing ethanol from molasses, have been commissioned and 20 more are heading towards the finishing line. An estimated 400 to 500 million litres of fuel ethanol would be required for blending with petrol in India.

Swedish MNC Alfa Laval India Limited and homegrown Praj Industries Limited have picked a large share of these contracts. Mojj Engineering Systems Ltd and ThyssenKrupp Industries India Pvt Ltd too are talking to sugar mills and in the process of finalizing deals.

Praj has bagged nine orders for fuel ethanol plants. The first molecular sieve based fuel ethanol project in India is under execution at the Shri Datta Shirol Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd in Sangli, Maharashtra. The second plant is for Balrampur Chini Mills, UP which will go on stream during this month, making it the first plant in the north to go on stream. The remaining are under various stages of execution. Chalthan Vibagh Khand Udyog Sahakari Mandali Limited in the most recent order. Praj also has some international orders under its belt in Thailand, Nepal and Malawi. Australian Biofuels was the latest export order.

Swedish MNC Alfa Laval is looking at a 60 per cent market share in this market. The company has three project orders in India and one in Indonesia. Couple of more orders are in the finalization stage. Apart from the Indian market Alfa Laval India will be addressing the SAARC markets also with possibility of taking care of the markets in Thailand, Philippines, and East Africa for which it is taking to its parent company.

ThyssenKrupp has no firm orders at the moment but enquiries have started coming. According to Noshir Kamdin, MD, ThyssenKrupp, his company has the advantage of having supplied sugar plants to about 122 sugar mills in India. Mojj Engi-neering is also in the process of finalising deals and hopes to add Rs three crore to its turnover from this business.

Making fuel ethanol is a complex process and calls for superior technology inputs. For this Alfa Laval has tied up with Dr Raphael Katzen-promoted Katzen Inc, US, which had commissioned the anhydrous alcohol plant in Cuba in 1953. Alfa Laval has a second tie-up with Cemcorp of Canada for advanced distillation technology for production of high quality potable alcohol, directly from the wash using less energy. Alfa Laval will be able to blend both the Katzen and the Cemcorp technologies to offer flexible, multiproduct plant to maximise production and efficiencies, says, Satish Tandon, MD of Alfa Laval.