Rodhia, a subsidiary of Solvay, said it had signed late April a development agreement with the National Laboratory of Bioethanol Science and Technology (CTBE) to arrive in Brazil to obtain molecules with ‘added value’ from sugar cane biomass.

Under this agreement, the research will be performed in CTBE, by researchers from both sides, who will work together to develop blocks chemicals currently used in different applications and different markets where Rhodia and Solvay are present, to replace energy sources by non-renewable biomass in the production process of these substances.

Open to external users, the CTBE was created to contribute to the continued leadership of Brazil in bioethanol production, seeking answers to problems in science and technology throughout the production cycle.

Sugar cane is considered a source of carbon that can be effectively transformed into fuels and products varied for the food, chemical and pharmaceutical, among others, making bio-refinery cane mills. Approximately 9,000 m2 of constructed area, divided into laboratory and an industrial unit, are used for scientific experiments and the transition to larger scale processes of interest to the energy industry of sugar cane. This infrastructure is in addition to efforts in Brazil to obtain a fuel both a very good performance and taking maximum advantage of the raw material and character of “sustainable development” sector.

Director of Research at CTBE, Maria Teresa Barbosa explained that the work, for the first two years of development of these technologies will be conducted at a laboratory scale, then we will move to a larger scale in the pilot CTBE plant process development. The pioneering project in CTBE in plant chemistry also include simulations in the Virtual sugar cane Bio-refinery (VSB).

The project will be supported by the state development bank of Brazil, the Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES), which will provide 7.0 million BRL (EUR 2.8 million) over three years.

Along with the funding, Rhodia will bring its expertise in the chemical field for the development of new routes to highly valued molecules. Thomas Canova, Director of Research and Development at Rhodia for Latin America, stresses that this agreement brings together two partners with a strong ambition in plant chemistry in Brazil, one of the strategic country for sustainable growth. “This initiative is in line with the commitment of Solvay in the development of chemistry based on renewable raw materials and with our focus on creating value,” he said.

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