INA completes testing of energy crop miscanthus
As part of the INA Downstream 2023 New Course programme and the analysis of developmental possibilities for bio-component refining, the first harvest of the miscanthus energy crop was completed at the beginning of the year. The miscanthus (lat. Miscanthus x giganteus) was planted on a demonstration farm in Rugvica in cooperation with BC Institute near Zagreb, and this season’s harvest yielded around 30 tons of biomass.
Harvested biomass was sent to Clariant, an innovative specialty chemical company, to their pre-commercial sunliquid® plant in Straubing, Germany, for processing and conversion into lignocellulosic sugars and advanced ethanol. The results give cause for optimism as they show that the sunliquid® technology can successfully convert miscanthus into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol.
As announced, the INA Downstream 2023 New Course programme, focused on ensuring sustainability and profitability of INA’s refining business, is ongoing. The programme includes the HRK 4bn worth investment into the DCU project at Rijeka Refinery and the transformation of Sisak Refinery into an industrial centre. Miscanthus plantation was tested as one of the options with that in mind.
“I am happy that the results are positive, as that opens the door for more analyses and possibilities. Thanks to cutting edge technology, we were able to produce advanced bioethanol, which is blended with fossil fuels. This is just one of many steps that need to be taken in order to fulfil the prerequisites for the development of a biorefinery in Sisak”, said Stjepan Nikolić, Operating Director of Refining and Marketing.
The testing was carried out under the GRACE project (GRowing Advanced Industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries), financed by the European Union, and INA was given the leader role in the demonstration chain for testing the Miscanthus hybrids cultivation on marginal and lower quality soils for processing into advanced bioethanol.
The aims and objectives of the GRACE project are to optimize various miscanthus value chains, to produce sustainable products with a strong market potential and to develop miscanthus as a sustainable feedstock resource for cultivation on marginal, contaminated and abandoned land.