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Novozymes, Praj Ind to set up facility to develop biofuels

According to reports, industrial enzyme maker Novozymes and bio-fuel developer Praj Industries will jointly set up a ‘demonstration facility’ to develop fuels from biomass.

A demonstration facility is a small-scale plant that makes enzymes or chemicals, and is a transition between labs and a commercial manufacturing unit.

Novozymes will supply enzymes that will help in converting biomass (such as wheat straw, rice straw, corn cobs ands bagasse) into bio-fuels such as ethanol, said Mr G.S. Krishnan, Managing Director, Novozymes South Asia.

Pune-based Praj will be setting up the unit in two months, he added.

Novozymes South Asia, a subsidiary of Danish company Novozymes, makes enzymes used for industrial applications in industries such as food and beverages, textiles, detergents or animal feed, and has recently started work in the bio-fuels segment.

The company is increasing its focus on developing enzymes to create bio-fuels. It has, for instance, also tied up with Bangalore-based biotech start-up – Sea6 Energy to jointly develop a process for the production of bio-fuels from seaweed.

The companies will use enzymes to convert seaweed-based carbohydrates to sugar, which can then be fermented to produce ethanol for fuel, chemicals, proteins for food, and fertilisers for plants.

“We are open to partnerships with similar companies to support our work with biofuels,” Mr Krishnan said.

According to a study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, India has enough agricultural residues to substitute more than 40 per cent of its gasoline usage in 2020.

Bio-fuels apart, Novozymes is also focusing on developing products to suit Indian requirements, Mr Krishnan said.

The company’s 60-member strong R&D team in India is developing enzymes for local requirements for the food, textile and detergent industries, he said.

It will develop enzymes that can be used to increase shelf life of food items like roti or naan, or enzymes for detergents to remove stains from curries, Mr Krishnan said.

Novozymes, which is currently 450-people strong, will also increase headcount in India, Mr Krishnan said.

The company’s India centre supports its global operations in administration to management and R&D.

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