Welcome at Clariant in Romania


In Romania, Clariant is building a new commercial-scale plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues based on the sunliquid® technology. The plant with an annual capacity of 50,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol will be located in Podari near Craiova in the southwestern part of Romania.

Cellulosic ethanol is an advanced, truly sustainable and nearly carbon-neutral biofuel that can readily be used in our existing car and energy infrastructure. It is produced from agricultural residues such as wheat straw, which are sourced from local farmers.

The first-of-its-kind facility will generate new green jobs, business opportunities and economic growth in a rural area. With the flagship plant, Clariant intends to demonstrate that the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol on the basis of the sunliquid® technology is technically feasible, economically viable and competitive.

By building the new plant, a new bio-based value chain built on agricultural residues will be established in the region, providing a tangible example for a successful circular economy approach. At the same time, this plant lays the foundation for a wide-scale implementation of advanced biofuels production in Europe and for a more sustainable energy supply in the European transport sector.

Clariant is investing more than EUR 100 million in its first sunliquid® plant. The project receives more than EUR 40 million funding from the European Union. In this frame, the EU project SUNLIQUID is funding tasks focusing on the scoping, planning and execution phases to build a first-of-its-kind sunliquid® production plant. This includes feedstock availability evaluation and feedstock sourcing activities, as well as the development of an efficient logistics supply chain for the lignocellulosic raw material. The EU project LIGNOFLAG is funding tasks focusing on building and operating the production plant, which includes optimizing the conversion to cellulosic ethanol, using co-products for energy production and soil fertilization, as well as organizing the distribution of the final (co-)products.

• Extension of current biofuel production to new, currently underutilized non-food biomass
• Annual conversion of 250,000 tons of straw into cellulosic ethanol

Production capacity
• 50,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol annually

Green jobs & economic growth
• Creation of green jobs in predominantly rural areas
• Inside the plant: around 100 full-time employees
• Outside the plant (field/logistics): around 300 persons
• Jobs associated with the construction of the plant: over 800
• Boost of local economies and creation of additional business opportunities
• Additional income for farmers and local businesses

2006: Development of highly specialised microorganisms and enzymes
2009: Opening of a pilot plant in Munich, Germany, in which the sunliquid® technology is developed and optimized
2012: Opening of a demonstration plant in Straubing, Germany, for pre-commercial production
Fall 2018: Groundbreaking for a commercial-scale production plant for cellulosic ethanol sunliquid® in the southwestern part of Romania

Environmental impact

The sunliquid® technology allows to produce cellulosic ethanol sustainably and competitively at commercial scale with maximum greenhouse gas emission savings. The EU’s Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) demands at least 6% greenhouse gas savings in transportation fuels until 2020. By using sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol up to 95% of greenhouse gas emissions are saved compared to fossil fuels.

The sunliquid® process, which converts agricultural residues into cellulosic ethanol, also yields two co-products: a solid one, lignin, and a liquid one, vinasse. Lignin is mainly used for green energy production, which supports an energy self-sufficient production process. Vinasse can be used as an organic fertilizer and brought back to the field, thus providing a tangible example of a circular economy.

For more details on the use of co-products click here.

Benefits for the environment

• Greenhouse gas reduction of up to 95%
• Support of the transformation from a fossil-based economy to a bio-based circular economy
• Establishment of an energy self-sufficient, highly sustainable production process for cellulosic ethanol by using co-products lignin and vinasse
• Creation of a sustainable and competitive source of domestic renewable energy in the EU

Economic impact of the sunliquid® plant

Clariant will invest more than EUR 100 million for the construction of the cellulosic ethanol plant. During the construction phase this can create over 800 jobs. On the industrial platform, we intend to create around 100 direct jobs in the long term. In addition, about 300 jobs can be created in connected businesses, e.g. the collection, storage and transportation of straw. Furthermore, the sunliquid® plant will create a suppliers network, mainly formed by local farmers. They will have the opportunity to convert agricultural residues, such as cereal straw, into an additional source of income.

Boosting the advanced biofuel market in Europe

The recent agreements on the revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) are setting the tone for creating a stable and predictable business environment that will trigger the development of investments in advanced biofuel production within the EU. Thus as long-term benefit for Romania, the sunliquid® technology opens up new opportunities on an expanding global market for second-generation biofuels. It creates the premises for Romania to be a leading country within the EU to expand its renewable energy footprint.

From a fossil-based economy to a bio-based circular economy

A wide-scale implementation of advanced biofuels production in Europe will create a sustainable and competitive source of domestic renewable energy for the EU, making it less dependent on oil imports from outside the EU. The development of an advanced biofuels industry in Europe will also support the necessary transformation from a fossil-based economy to a bio-based, circular economy.

Benefits for the economy

• Boost of local economies through creation of green jobs predominantly in rural areas
• Economic growth and additional business opportunities for all actors along the value chain
• Collaboration within and linking of the agricultural, logistics, energy and biochemical sector

The sunliquid® technology

The sunliquid® technology offers an integrated process for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues.

Main features of the sunliquid® technology

• High ethanol yields with minimum production costs
• Flexible use of various lignocellulosic raw materials
• Chemical-free pre-treatment
• Integrated enzyme production with feedstock and process specific enzymes
• Simultaneous fermentation of C6 and C5 sugars
• Energy self-sufficient and nearly carbon-neutral

Technology proven application of cellulosic ethanol

A fleet test conducted by Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz demonstrated that second-generation biofuels based on agricultural residues are now technologically ready and available. The use of sunliquid®20, a premium-grade E20 blend, was successfully showcased in a fleet test with Mercedes-Benz service vehicles.

For more details on the sunliquid® technology click here.

September 20, 2019

Clariant and ORLEN Południe announce license agreement on sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol technology

Clariant, a focused and innovative specialty chemical company, and ORLEN Południe, a member of ORLEN Group, which is a leader in the fuels and energy markets and the largest player in Central and Eastern Europe, today signed a license agreement on sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology. More

September 02, 2019

Clariant successfully concludes testing of energy crop miscanthus at Straubing plant for GRACE project

Munich, September 02, 2019 – Clariant announced today that it has conducted tests on approximately 30 tons of miscanthus provided by INA, Croatia’s leading oil and gas company. The miscanthus biomass was harvested and baled at the INA demonstration site in Croatia in February this year and shipped for processing to Clariant’s pre-commercial sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany for conversion into lignocellulosic sugars and ethanol. More

September 12, 2018

Groundbreaking for Clariant’s sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol plant in Romania 

Muttenz, September 12, 2018 – Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, today officially started construction of the first large-scale commercial sunliquid plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol made from agricultural residues. At the flagship facility, the sunliquid technology developed by the company is being used on an industrial scale for the first time. The occasion was marked with a traditional groundbreaking ceremony in Podari near Craiova in southwestern Romania, which was attended by official representatives of the Romanian government, the Swiss Ambassador Urs Herren, and a Clariant representation headed by Christian Kohlpaintner, Member of the Executive Committee. More

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Dragos Gavriluta
Dragos Gavriluta
Country Head Romania

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Liviu Ungureanu
Liviu Ungureanu
Site Manager Podari

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Paul Popescu
Paul Popescu
Feedstock and Supply Manager

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The project receives funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program for research, technological development and demonstration under Grant Agreement no. 322386 (SUNLIQUID) and from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement no. 709606 (LIGNOFLAG).

Romania Sunliquid project

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