State-run Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and LanzaTech, carbon recycling company, have signed a deal to build the world’s first refinery off gas-to-bioethanol production facility in India at an investment of Rs 350 crore.
LanzaTech has developed a gas fermentation process to make fuels and chemicals. Instead of sugars and yeast, the company uses a biological catalyst to ferment waste gas emissions. “The large volume of waste gas produced at the industrial facilities such as refineries cannot be stored or transported; rather it must be combusted, leading to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Power can be carbon-free and in India, the cost of renewable power has fallen below the cost of coal, thereby, accelerating the transition to a carbon-free grid,” said an IOC statement on Monday.
LanzaTech’s technology allows refineries to divert waste gases from the grid, supporting the transition to fully renewable power, while recycling this carbon into liquid fuels and petrochemicals.
The implementation of the National Smart Grid Mission, along with new programmes for increasing energy capacities from wind and waste conversion are key elements of India’s renewable energy roadmap. This vision is inextricably linked to the principle of ‘need-based consumption’ that follows the principle of maximising on existing resources and carrying out de-carbonising activities on a daily basis.
“For liquid fuels, this is highlighted by targets initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to increase the supply of ethanol-blended petrol (E10) to all parts of the country. IOCL is aligned with this ministerial vision and is working to reduce its overall emissions and improve its refinery yields. For this reason, it has selected LanzaTech’s technology that enables it to use the carbon-rich off-gases for the production of ethanol in a beneficial manner,” added the statement.
The ethanol produced from the recycling of the refinery’s off-gases is expected to have a greenhouse gas emissions savings of over 70 per cent compared to conventional gasoline.
The basic engineering for the 40-million-litre-per-annum facility to be set up in IOCL’s Panipat refinery in Haryana will begin later this year. It will be integrated into the existing site’s infrastructure and will be LanzaTech’s first project capturing refinery off-gases. LanzaTech’s first commercial facility converting waste emissions from steel production to ethanol will also be available in China by year-end in 2017.
“India is on track to exceed its Paris commitments,” said India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, while adding that the development was primarily driven by a rise in investments made towards the development of low-carbon technologies by firms such IOCL and LanzaTech.
“It is promising to see carbon turning into an opportunity, where we can reduce emissions, maximise resources and decarbonise our economy,” said Pradhan.
“Innovation is one of IndianOil’s core values as evidenced by our continued investment in our R&D and engineering teams,” said Mr Sanjiv Singh, Chairman IndianOil. “Innovation helps us learn and grow and this project at the Panipat Refinery enables us to continue to move forward with our commitment to build a strong sustainable business that demonstrates concern for society and the environment. The biofuels we will be able to produce will support the requirements for motor spirit blends set by the Government of India while enabling IndianOil to add value while reducing its emissions.”
The potential impact of using off-gases from the refining sector in India is considerable. India would be able to produce 40-50 KMTA of ethanol per refinery while saving about 1 million tonnes of CO2 per annum. This is the equivalent emissions savings as taking 850,000 cars off the road in India each year.
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