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Comment Sustainability

Bilfinger wins EPCM contract for Clariant’s advanced biofuels plant in Romania

By Mary Page Bailey |

Bilfinger SE (Mannheim, Germany) has been commissioned by Clariant AG (Muttenz, Switzerland) to deliver EPCM (engineering, procurement, overall project and construction management) services for the construction of their commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production plant using Clariant’s sunliquid technology in southwest Romania.

“We are proud to support our long-standing customer Clariant in the construction of this groundbreaking plant that will contribute to the large-scale production of sustainable fuels”, says Jorg Gerritsen, Project Director of Bilfinger Tebodin. “With our extensive network and expertise in design, engineering, procurement and construction management, we ensure the timely and efficient execution of this major project.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present a challenging situation, the team was able to ensure that work on the construction site continues while fully complying with all pandemic precautionary regulations as established by the Romanian authorities.

“Over the past months, several milestones have been reached on the construction site while also achieving the installation of the majority of large key equipment. This puts us on track to complete the construction by the end of 2021, after which start-up and production will commence. We are proud to see already the substantial benefits that our investment is bringing to the Podari region and look forward to see its impact increase further once the plant is fully staffed and operating at full capacity”, says Christian Librera, Vice President and Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives at Clariant.

An international team at Bilfinger Tebodin of around 130 experts from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Ukraine is working on the project. The team has realized the complete process design in one digital platform. Centralizing all data makes the planning of the plant more efficient, e.g. as it considerably speeds up design reviews.

For the spatial design, Bilfinger Tebodin is combining various software packages. The 3D model of the plant is extended to a 4D model that includes time planning, making it possible to optimize the sequence of the individual construction phases. Bilfinger Tebodin is also assisting Clariant in procuring materials and services. Furthermore, the team manages and supervises the construction works.

Once operational, the plant will process around 250,000 tons of locally sourced wheat straw per year into 50,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol. This is an advanced, sustainable, and carbon-neutral biofuel that can readily be blended into conventional fuel and be used in today’s car infrastructure. Clariant’s sunliquid plant will use co-products from the process for the generation of energy with the goal of making the plant independent from fossil energy sources.

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