Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) today announced that it is making good progress with the construction of its sunliquid cellulosic-ethanol production plant in Podari, in the southwestern part of Romania. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present a challenging situation, Clariant’s team was able to ensure that work on the construction site continues while fully complying with all pandemic precaution regulations as established by the Romanian authorities.
“It is truly impressive to see how our project team as well as all local partners have been able to keep this important construction project running while ensuring everyone’s safety and health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once completed, this sunliquid cellulosic ethanol production plant will be a cornerstone of our continuing transformation into a leading specialty chemicals company and another proofpoint of our commitment to innovation and sustainability,” says Hans Bohnen, Clariant’s chief operating officer.
The sunliquid plant receives more than €40 million in funding from the European Union and is constructed on a 10-hectare area in Podari near Craiova in southwestern Romania, from where it has access to a secure regional supply of feedstock and can benefit from the region’s existing logistic and industrial infrastructure. Once operational, the plant will process approx. 250,000 tons of straw to produce 50,000 tons of sunliquid cellulosic ethanol on an annual basis. This is an advanced, truly sustainable, and carbon-neutral biofuel that can readily be blended into conventional fuel and be used in today’s car infrastructure.
“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.
Clariant is also making headway with the recruitment and training of staff members for its sunliquid project in Romania. The company’s local employee population is expanding rapidly, with a total of 26 people so far. These team members benefit from a comprehensive training program in Germany and Romania. They started their training at the pre-commercial sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany, followed by training sessions in collaboration with the University of Craiova, a renowned educational center in the Southwest of Romania. In the long-term, up to 100 staff members will be directly employed in the plant, while about 300 jobs will be created in connecting businesses, for example, the collection, storage and transportation of the feedstock.
On the Moleculist Blog on Clariant’s website, the successful path that has taken the sunliquid technology platform from development and testing in Bavaria, Germany to the first-of-its-kind commercial facility in Podari, Romania is presented in greater detail.