10. Feb 2020
Versalis, Eni’s chemical company, has announced that all the plants at Crescentino (Vercelli, Piedmont) will be up and running by the first half of 2020. The plant, acquired in November 2018, is designed for industrial-scale production of bioethanol and has been upgraded with an investment of more than 15 million euro.
The biomass power plant for renewable electricity generation and part of the water treatment plant with biogas production have already been restarted and activities are ongoing to restart the bioethanol plant within the first half of 2020. The plant uses proprietary PROESA® technology, one of the most innovative in the biomass chemistry sector for the pre-treatment of cellulosic biomass from agricultural residues and energy crops in biorefineries. The process is based on a first phase in which the biomass is subjected to high temperatures and pressures, allowing to separate the cellulose and hemicellulose from the lignin. Subsequently, the polysaccharides are treated with enzymes that release the simple sugars, then fermented by yeast into ethanol.
The layout of the Crescentino plants makes it possible to use a system to completely recycle all water and also makes the site completely energy independent through the use of lignin as feedstock for the power plant.
The Versalis Biotech Research Centres at Rivalta Scrivia (Alessandria) and Novara are currently working on further developments in the production of a complete range of fermentative renewable products such as bio-oils for biorefinery, totally biodegradable polymers (polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHAs), intermediates for biopolymers and biochemicals, all made from second-generation sugars produced with the PROESA® technology. They are also carrying out trials on developing lignin for new market applications.
«Crescentino is a strategic site that will strengthen Versalis’ competitive position in the renewable chemicals sector - said Daniele Ferrari, CEO of Versalis (Eni) - with the aim of developing a totally integrated and sustainable platform, using only residual biomass that does not compete with the food chain».