ALCOHOL: THE MOTOR FUEL ADDITIVE
Praj Industries offers the technology from fermentation of molasses to fuel ethanol plants
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Feb 16 - 22, 2004
Pakistan faces two problems, huge import bill of POL products and single-product based sugar industry. Apparently there seems to be no correlation between the two problems and one single remedy. However, petro-alcohol — a product commonly known and used in many countries around the globe can help in overcoming the twin problems. Praj Industries from India offers the solution.
Praj's close association with sugar industry worldwide and its extensive experience in handling molasses for producing various grades of alcohol has been adding value to performance of sugar mills. To share its global experience Praj recently held a number of seminars with the assistance of Meshe International, its representative for Pakistan. The seminar held in Karachi was attended by a large number of people belonging to sugar industry.
Praj has been playing a key role, not only by building new plants but by bringing in a different perspective on technology globally. It enjoys over 250 references in more than 25 countries across 5 continents. Praj can rightly boast to be the world leader in providing molasses based distilleries. It still peruses research and development for enhancing process efficiencies. Some of the programmes undertaken include enhancing sugarcane to ethanol economics and energy crops for ethanol production. Some of the identified crops include, tropical sugar beet, sweet sorghum and tapioca. Biomass is another futuristic feedstock.
Over the last two decades Praj has reinforced its mission of higher energy gains with zero pollution at the lowest production cost. The need of the hour is enhancing quality and Praj is making quality affordable. In some countries where batch fermentation was the practice, Praj introduced continuous fermentation and synchronized it varying characteristics of feedstock. Where sugarcane molasses has been the predominant feed, Praj made starch based raw materials viable. Where single feedstock has been the tradition, alternate multiple feedstock distilleries have been installed and successfully operated. Praj has added a new science to distillation by way of energy efficiency. It has also integrated plant design for a cleaner technology.
The production of petro-alcohol comprises of three basic processes, fermentation, distillation and blending. Praj offers the complete technology. The fermentation technology is high yielding but at lower production cost. It has introduced many firsts be it the introduction of the continuous fermentation process, tropicalization of processes to suit local conditions or introduction of rugged yeast strains and/or multiple feed systems.
Praj's distillation system offer high quality at lower energy cost. It has been a tough act to follow. Classical hear and mass transfer theories are applied, tested and proven to deliver energy integrated systems. This has been achieved by introducing high performance tower internals that also offer better separation of impurities. In line with customer's needs, Praj has introduced units which are capable of delivering multiple products at half the steam requirements of conventional systems. Use of PLC/DCS based control systems further improve productivity of critical operations. As the world looks for alternate fuel sources to drive the vehicles on the roads, alcohol is finding a more notable role as motor fuel additive, an environment friendly solution.
The interest of Pakistan's sugar industry in technology offered by Praj is natural. Pakistan produced around two million tonnes of molasses annually. The product is exported at a low price but if converted in ethanol can fetch a price three times the price of molasses. Besides, it has extensive use in chemical industry. If the country also goes for petro-alcohol not only fuel import bill will be reduced but less pollution would be created. And above all going for local conversion of molasses into ethanol can improve financial health of problem ridden sugar industry.