Shri S.G. Mokashi takes over as Chairman of CHEMEXCIL w.e.f. 15th February 2021CHEMEXCIL | Feb 15, 2021
Godavari Biorefineries Ltd. Expands Its Ethanol ProductionDec 16, 2020
Godavari Biorefineries Ltd., one of the pioneers in the manufacture of alcohol-based chemicals in India has increased its ethanol manufacturing capacity from 320,000 liters per day to 400,000 litres ethyl alcohol per day. The company is targeting to divert 40% of its sugar in cane to make ethanol using sugarcane juice and B Heavy molasses. With this development, the company will have a capacity of over 100 million liters of ethyl alcohol in a single location.
Sugar, a low carbon source of energy, is not just an environmentally friendly source to produce ethanol but also drives the rural economy. The livelihood of a significant number of small farmers in rural India depends on the farming of sugarcane, production of Ethanol using sugar will support the growth of such farmers.
Samir Somaiya, Chairman and Managing Director, Godavari Biorefineries Limited, said, “Since the inception of the company, we have worked towards building an environmentally friendly eco-system in our company. With the increase in capacity of production of Ethanol, we are not only growing our business but also helping the entire ecosystem flourish.”
While the world is moving towards sustainable practices to reduce carbon footprints, governments all over the world are promoting policies/programs to encourage companies/industries to incorporate green practices. One of such programs introduced by the Indian government is the Ethanol Blending Program, which sought to promote the use of alternative and environment-friendly fuels and to reduce import dependency for energy requirements. The Government expanded the size of this programme by allowing the use of sugarcane juice/syrup and more recently other feedstocks.
Godavari biorefineries Ltd., one of the first companies to associate with the expanded program and supplied a large quantity of ethanol to the Ethanol Blending Program last year. Earlier this year, the company delivered 38 million liters of ethanol to the program. Godavari Biorefineries pioneered the use of sugarcane syrup for making ethanol by diverting almost 30% of sugarcane directly following the Brazilian model. This year, the company is contracting to deliver more than 70 million litres for the ethanol blending programme. In the future, the company plans to produce more than 100 million litres in a single location.
About Godavari Biorefineries Limited
The Godavari Sugar Mills Ltd., incorporated in 1939, demerged to Godavari Biorefineries in 2009. Godavari Biorefineries Ltd. promoted by Late Shri. Karamshibhai Jethabhai Somaiya (Padmabhushan) and his son, Dr. Shantilal Karamshibhai Somaiya, was incorporated in 1939 and has been contributing to the industrial development of India for more than six decades.The Company with three Sugar mills is fully integrated and is among the top ten Sugar complexes out of around 500 sugar manufacturers in India. The Company is one of the largest producers of Alcohol & a pioneer in manufacture of Alcohol based Chemicals in India.
Transition to Specialty chemicalsChemical Engineering World | Jul 01, 2020
How is the market for green / renewable chemicals evolving globally and in India?
We see a big increase in the need for renewable/green chemicals. This trend is more visible globally. Large international companies are making public commitments to us renewable chemicals, biodegradable packaging, carbon neutral processes, and making a more sensitive approach to people, climate and the planet going forward. In this, there is a huge opportunity for companies in the renewable space to go forward.
To what extent renewable chemicals can replace the conventional chemicals and petrochemicals in India and what are the major concerns that will have to be addressed at various levels in India?
Renewable chemicals can be used in various ways and can be ‘Identical’ except that these are made from renewable sources. For example, one can make acetic acid from renewable sources that is made otherwise from petroleum feedstock. ‘Drop-ins’, and can completely substitute conventional materials; although they may be chemically different, with no loss of functionality. Green chemicals can also be completely different from material derived from conventional feedstock and have different properties but still may have the same end use. Some of the renewable chemicals may not have a fossil substitute.
In each of these cases, the substitution will depend upon many factors. One of the very first point is if the price of the renewable chemical can compete with that derived from fossil sources. Second, whether the end use segment is willing to pay a price premium for a renewable derived feedstock. We find that this is often the case in the skin care sector. In such cases, responsibly sourced, traceable, renewable and/or biodegradable chemicals can command a price premium from the end customer. Third point is whether the material properties can help command a better price. Finally, in some markets, the Governments are creating policies that promote the use of renewable raw materials. Since your question particularly concerned India. In my opinion, bio-ethanol is a ‘Drop-in’ and there is a favorable Government policy to help encourage that blend to help our energy security and a lower carbon future. For chemicals, the market needs to mature to give us more value. But I think that consumer preferences are changing, and there are niche markets that reward use of such chemicals, and it is a matter of time before some end use segments grow the use of these feedstocks.
How friendly are the policies in our country to support the growth of renewable chemicals and protect the domestic industry from imports?
In India, there are no policies for renewable chemicals. The Government has created policies for renewable fuel (ethanol blending), and also Bio-CNG. However, this support is not extended to the chemical sector. In the EU and the USA, there are significant policies encouraging the investment in research, pilot plant, and commercialization of renewable processes and technologies. Further, there are policies in place to influence the attractiveness of these products. The US Bio-Preferred Program is one such example. The Carbon markets are also another way to help the economic viability of such initiatives.
Tell us about the Godavari bio-refinery model and how has the organization continued to stay financially viable? How have you addressed the cost challenge across the customers in India though these lead to higher ROIs across for the user industries?
Godavari Biorefineries is using four strategies for the future. The Government has encouraged the making of ethanol from sugarcane juice or syrup for blending in petrol for our transportation needs. Godavari was one of the first companies to aggressively adapt to this environment and supplied a large quantity of ethanol for the purpose this past year. This provides us much needed optionality to swing between ethanol and sugar based on the demand supply gap in sugar or ethanol. Currently, we are increasing our ethanol capacity to 400,000 lpd. With this we will have a capacity of over 100 million litres of ethyl alcohol in a single location. In the chemical sector, we are making a transition to specialty chemicals. In the past few years, we have successfully introduced new chemicals that are in the fragrance or skin care field. We are also establishing more long term relationships with global companies that share our vision of a sustainable future, so that we can jointly develop products with their involvement. This ‘joint’ development approach helps us know the target product cost and quality of the customer. Achieving the same helps them achieve their ROIs. Bio-refining means products from agriculture and we work closely with the farmer to help enhance yields and productivity, in order for the farmer to be financially better off, and the farm and soil to be healthy. To promote well grown and well processed foods, we have established a brand ‘Jivana’ to promote pure and high quality food products that we need on a daily basis.
When & why did your organization stop producing acetic acid and took the decision to restart the business on demand in October 2018 which received USDA certification in next few months?
We stopped making Acetic Acid over a decade ago. In this case, we made the same chemical from renewable sources (ethanol) that is also made from fossil resources. With the reduction in import duties, the entire Indian alcohol based chemical industry that made acetic acid from ethanol found itself unable to compete with petroleum sources. Along with all the others, we too shut down. We reinvested and resumed the manufacture of acetic acid only on a very small scale. There are a few customers the world over desire to buy this product because their end market segment is ready to pay a premium for the same. This is a small market and the demand fluctuates. But we are hopeful that the market will grow.
Which is the best suited bio refinery model for India to realize the sustainability goal? How can we build world class bio refineries in our country?
I hope we are working on demonstrating that. It is a model that works closely with farmers. In India, farmers have small land holdings. Any engagement has to help them be financially sustainable and for the farm to be productive in the short and longer term. We are working with our farmers to reduce their water footprint, and encourage the use of intercrops to reduce fertilizer use and give them a dual income. Similarly, biorefining is the process of converting the feedstock into value added products. These find applications in foods, fuels, electricity, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fragrance chemistry, bio materials, agrochemicals and much more. There has to be a thinking towards a circular and cascading biorefinery that continuously strives to find and add value. A few years ago, we installed an incinerator boiler to recover energy from our waste. Now, we are implementing a process to extract potash from the ash from the incinerator. This potash will then be sold to our farmers. Currently, India imports almost all its potash needs. Through this example, we are showing how we can cascade and add value, and the process is circular. As a country, we need research to keep imagining the future. Research and practice go hand in hand. In Europe, I have seen large pilot plants where lab work can be taken further. We need to have such facilities to further bio-refining in India.
How supportive is the National Biofuels Policy towards setting up 2nd generation bio-refineries and what are the challenges that still need to be addressed?
The National Biofuel policy helps the making of biofuels. India is an agrarian economy and has an abundance of biomass. However, the collection of the biomass will always be a challenge. So the availability of this biomass at the processing site is an entry barrier. At Godavari Biorefineries, we have invested much in energy efficiency and engineering to make available surplus bagasse on site for use as a next generation feedstock. Secondly, ethanol from biomass is what is called 2-G (2nd generation). These are possible, and we are seeing demonstration facilities around the world. However, these are expensive and are made possible with Government support and subsidy. The Government of India is also supporting the creation of such Greenfield facilities to make 2G ethanol. But as in every other location, these facilities are very expensive. The Government makes them possible with ‘Viability Gap Funding’. I believe that India should also experiment with our own model. We need to encourage ‘bolt on’ solutions of adding equipment and technology to existing infrastructure. For example, our sugar mills already have biomass on site and downstream ethanol facilities. A ‘bolt on’ approach will only add what is necessary to complete the 2G addition, reducing funding needs. The current biofuel policy provides for viability gap funding only for Greenfield facilities. It needs to be modified for ‘bolt on’ facilities as well. In summary, I think India has a great agriculture base. There is lots of biomass and we have the education and research system to dream. The market is large and people are imagining a better and more sustainable future for their children. Biorefining of biomass is the way for a more sustainable way of life.
GBL inaugurates zero liquid discharge facility at Sakarwadi plantFNBNEWS.COM | Nov 05, 2019
Godavari Biorefineries Limited (GBL) Inaugurates State-of-the-Art ZLD Facility at its Maharashtra plantONLINE, INDUSTRY DIGEST | Nov 06, 2019
Godavari Biorefineries inaugurates ZLD facility in Sakarwadi, IndiaONLINE, CHEMICAL ENGINEERING | Nov 05, 2019
Godavari Biorefineries Limited’s Chemical Business Unit Co-Shares 2 Platinum Awards with Larsen & ToubroONLINE, CHEMICAL INDUSTRY DIGEST | Oct 11, 2019
Godavari Biorefineries Ltd earns USDA Certified Biobased Product Label (100% Biobased content) for NaturoBG ® (1,3-Butylene Glycol), Acetic Acid Glacial and Crotonaldehyde.Biotech Express (Print- Vol.6- Issue 72) | Jul 18, 2019
Text of Samir Somaiya's Gundu Rao Memorial Lecture address at the Annual Convention of the Deccan Sugar Technologists Association held at Belagavi, in July 2017.Jul 21, 2017
Cane (Crop of the past or Feedstock of the future)
The world is living in a fossil fuel economy. And this has led to tremendous growth in the world economy. But as we progress, we have also seen, that the current methods of consumption, we are depleting resources. In the future, we will have to adapt to a more renewable future.
Renewables are interesting, and fundamentally different from fossil resources. The focus on fossil resources, is extraction. Every subsequent year, you will have less of the resource. In renewables, it is how much you can make available, and then what you can harvest. And, if done right, you could have equal resource every year.
So, I will speak on the raw material, the process, and the product. As I go along, I will also give suggestions for research that DSTA could consider.
Imagine having been prescribed medicine for your health, without having had a checkup. Would we even consider doing that? I think that the same is the case today, in the work we do in soil science. In the past couple of years, we have done over 4,000 tests for soil, and we have seen that the application of inputs to the soil is independent of what the soil needs.Farmers apply inputs to the soil as suggested by tradition, what the neighbor is doing, or what the marketing company is recommending.
To get better yields, we must focus on soil health. And to understand soil health, we must first understand it, what it has, and what it needs.
Once we know what it is, we must then focus on how to keep it good for all time. There are various ways in which we can do this. From having an educated understanding and informed application of what is being recommended by the fertilizer companies, to a greater education and understanding of the experiments being done in agro ecology. Using of farm produce itself, to make the farm productive. I have seen farms using a combination of cow urine, garlic, jaggery etc, to make combinations of fertilizer and pesticide additions to enhance soil health and fertility.
Experiments in Brazil (to keep the soil wild). There have also been experiments in Brazil, where the soil and cane have been allowed to grow using organic methods, and biological means of pest control.
Recommendation 1: We must encourage research that integrates modern research and traditional methods
There is also much research on use of some pesticides, and effect on human health. Recently, I read a book ‘Living Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber (http://www.livingdownstream.com/) that looks at modern practices and their detrimental effect on our health. Can we look at this research, and examine our response.
Recommendation 2: Being mindful of our agricultural practices and study their effects, if any, human health.
Soil is one aspect of sustainability. The next aspect is water. We are constantly being reminded, that we are in the Deccan plateau, and that water is scarce. Sugarcane drives the local economy. Sugarcane contributes to livelihoods, and provides sustainable energy in the form of renewable electricity (cogeneration), and biofuels (ethanol). The business of sugarcane processing, is also carbon mitigating, when a carbon balance is drawn around the entire sugarcane economic envelope.
But, water is a scarce commodity, and its use must be measured. The advent of drip technology promises much saving, but it has not spread sufficiently. As of today, total penetration of drip is small. Estimates in Maharashtra are about 18% and Karnataka about 10%. Even though the use of this reduces water consumption by 50%, and increases yield by 30-40%. Systematic efforts need to be made by the mills with their farmers to increase adoption.
There is an explosion of technologies that further help in the monitoring of cane (or for that matter, any plant growth). IOT (internet of things) and new wireless technologies allow for monitoring moisture, and subsequent automation in delivering water when dry will further help plant growth and optimization.
Drones are being used in agriculture. They help the farmer see his/her plot in a way that is not seen otherwise. See patterns, multi-spectral, and also over time.
Recently, when in the USA, I saw a chip being implanted in a tree, that wirelessly communicates moisture content.
Recommendation 3: How do we best integrate these technologies including IOT for better yields.
But even if we have so much information, what recommendations are we providing. Are these static? Have these changed with time? There is an explosion of data, are our recommendations dynamic? Are we learning.
Recommendation 4: How do we give personalised recommendations, instead of static, one size fits all approaches
There is a company, ‘The Climate Corporation’, that was purchased by Monsanto. This gives detailed analysis of the farmer’s plot. And what needs to be done on it. Also, the introduction of cane varieties, intercropping, In March this year, there was an article in the New York Times, ‘How to Steal a River’. This talks about a river in Kerala. Sand acts as an aquifer. When the rainfalls, it helps recharge the ground. The article said, that illegal sand mining has ensured that what were flowing and perennial rivers have become seasonal, and the water tables have dropped. So, while we try to reduce use of water, we have to also see that the harvesting of water (or its conservation) also takes place. Otherwise, we will continue to see what we have been. Rajendra Singh, waterman of India, says that the water that falls on the ground, must be taken under water. Through the planting of trees, and we have to also ensure, that our sand in the river bed is conserved.
Recommendation 5: Water Conservation, and a holistic approach to achieving this.
Ultimately, all this has to be done, with a view on the farmer, and their livelihood. Unlike Brazil or the USA, where farms are very large, and there is corporate agriculture, our agrarian economy is small holder farming. We have to ensure that the farmer continues to make a good livelihood of cane.
What is the area under cane? Are we going to accept that we will always have 90 tons per hectare of cane, and that recoveries will remain static or decline. Will we look at the growth in recoveries that UP has accomplished this past year? How do we combine higher yields, higher sugar content, and a smarted application of knowledge and inputs, so as to ensure that the farmer gets the best yield, and the earth is healthy enough to sustain this agriculture for a long time to come.
Recommendation 6: Targeting better yields without compromising soil fertility and improving farmer livelihoods.
There are two words that are gaining currency in the world of manufacturing. Cascading, and Circular. What is cascading? And what is circular? By Cascading, we mean the processes that the sugar industry, the world over has been practicing for decades. You make sugar, the molasses cascades to ethanol production, the spent wash cascades to biogas, or steam, or spent wash cascades to make biocompost, etc. Similarly, bagasse cascades to the manufacture of power, or it cascades to make paper or particle board.
By circular, we mean how much of the product Is recycled. So, if I consume water, and sugarcane itself can be considered as a bottle of water, how much of this circles back to the process. Does the water that we get from the sugar plant circle to the fermenters? Does any of this circle back to the power plant? Today, at Sameerwadi, except for the initial filling of water, we require no fresh water to run the sugar process. In fact, the excess condensate is recycled to the cogeneration plant and distillery. It was in recognition of these efforts that the company received an award from ICC and FICCI.
Recommendation 7: Reducing raw water consumption to 0
The use of bio-compost to the farm encircles a wider circular envelope.
This also applies to heat. If I use the heat in the flue gas, to dry the incoming bagasse stream, then once again I have a circular process.
This brings me to energy
How much energy are we putting into the plant? What is the steam % cane? Where are the opportunities for energy recovery? What is the minimum that we can go to? What technologies are we using to discover this minimum, and how do we arrive at what is optimum.
When I joined the business 50% steam on cane was the norm. Exhaust steam used to be used at many places in the plant. And with good reason. One did not want to save bagasse. The creation of a power PPA encouraged energy and subsequent bagasse saving, for use in high pressure turbines for export to the grid. Today, continuous pans and FFEs have made 30% steam on cane possible. When there was no ability to sell excess power, there was no generation of excess power. Today, it is possible to export 110 units per ton of cane crushed. A paper published in 2001, detailing schemes of a gasifier and an integrated gas turbine demonstrated a much larger number of exportable surplus.
Recommendation 7: Steam% cane to 30%
So, the point that I am making is, what do how do we look at the resources we generate. How do we cascade them, and how do we reuse them?
Sugar is our main product. As they say, it is our bread and butter. A few months ago, I attended the NY sugar dinner, and had a chance to meet the head of the WSRO. The website home page of WSRO (www.wsro.org) says, ‘researching the effects of sugar on nutrition, health and wellness worldwide’.
I think that this is important. Much money is being spent, by NGOs, and Governments, trying to find evidence to say that sugar is not healthy. And there is no research being done or supported by the industry, to see the effects of sugar on health and nutrition. On whether, our traditional dietary approaches to using sugar are healthy.
She mentioned that there is a storm, but sugar technologists and management are more concerned with their mills, their efficiencies, their climate, and their Government policies. She mentioned that research must be done that addresses the public perception that is being built simply because of the incredible amount of money being spent to find sugar guilty.
We all need to find out what the facts are, and promote a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy diet. But we should be mindful, that our market is being eroded. ANd we should put the correct research there, and not just lose because we did not put our money or resources to the research.
Recommendation 8: Sugar and health, nutrition research
Now we know that ethanol is very versatile, and it can be used for transportation, drinking, and the manufacture of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
We are here in Belgaum, and I did an analysis of the petrol consumption here. In Belgaum, petrol consumption is 1010.5 KL/month. Or 10 million litres per month, so 1.2 billion litres per year. Or, 12 crore litres per year. The amount of cane crushed in Belgaum district is 79 million tons. At the approximation of about 10 litres of ethanol per ton of cane crushed (assuming that ethanol is only made from molasses), we can have the production of about 8 crore litres of ethanol per year.
Litre for litre, that is 65% of the petrol consumption, and in terms of energy value (since ethanol as 67% of the energy value as petrol), about 40% of the petrol consumption. This means, that at current levels of consumption, if we followed the Brazilian model, where all ethanol, or a percentage of this, could be used as a fuel in the vehicles, we could meet 40% of the need of petrol consumption in this district.
Recommendation 9: Working with auto companies to enable wider use of ethanol as a fuel
Biogas is also produced as a product of bio-methanation. This could also be converted into a transport fuel.
Recommendation 10: Biogas as a fuel
Petrol prices in Belgavi are Rs. 63 per litre. In energy value, this is equivalent to Rs. 42 per litre. Could we not, as the sugar industry be allowed to sell ethanol as a fuel into the market. The demand for petrol is growing, will this demand only be met from imports. When we talk of a circular economy, can we not draw a boundary around what we have.
Many say, where will the ethanol come from. I think we have to take a wider view. Are we going to assume that the productivity of cane will remain static. We are all aware, that in smaller plots, cane yields of over 200 tons/hectare have been witnessed by many of us. Can we not, then target a yield of 125 tons per hectare as an average? There is much happening in the field of cellulosic ethanol. Maybe, in the future, there can be a drop-in conversion costs of converting bagasse to sugars. Coupled with lower steam on cane percentages, the higher bagasse savings can be converted to cellulosic ethanol.
Or, the electricity generation can also be used to power transportation. I have just returned from the USA. My friend has a Tesla. Volvo has just announced, that it will fully transition to electric or hybrid vehicles. At so many places in California, there are electricity charging stations.
On this same trip, I was at San Fransisco airport, there was 2 bins at the airport for trash. One that said ‘recyle bottles and cans’, and the other for ‘composting’. And the sign above it said, almost everything that you purchase here is compostable. Once again, a circular economy. From the earth, back to the earth.
Like compostable utensils from bagasse, or other agricultural residues, much work is happening in bio polymers, bio chemicals, and also using synthetic biology to convert sugars to high value compounds. The possibilities are endless.
We have to transition to a cleaner and a more renewable future, and must certainly, a sustainable future. One that is a more self-contained economy.
Our past has laid the strong foundations. Let us chart out and build a futuristic path.
Foundation stone-laying ceremony of Cellulose project and Bagasse based Biorefinery ProjectApr 28, 2017
Godavari Biorefineries Limited (GBL) is currently operating in Sameerwadi (Dist. Bagalkot, Karnataka) an integrated sugarcane processing complex which consists of sugar factory of 15,000 MT per day sugarcane crushing capacity, distillery of 2 Lakh Liters per day, Co-generation power plant of 48 MW, bio-fertilizer unit & organic chemicals.
GBL decided to embark upon journey to create unique biorefinery using agro feedstock (essentially sugarcane & its derivatives) & to produce various chemicals which have applications in Paints & Coatings, Construction, Pharmaceutical, Flavour & Fragrances, Personal Care & Cosmetics, Food & Beverage industries.
On 28th April 2017, we laid the foundation stone for our next generation bagasse based biorefinery and ethanol based specialty chemicals projects.
Our proposed next generation bagasse based biorefinery & specialty chemical project in Sameerwadi is a step in achieving the stated objective of creating a biorefinery and to optimize the value from the feedstock currently being used in producing sugar, ethanol & power. The bagasse based biorefinery would produce cellulose & Xylitol, an alternate sweetener in the first phase.This will be one of the few integrated cascading biorefineries in the world.