THE INDIAN EXPRESS (Business Express)

India's first commercial biodiesel plant soon


Hyderabad, Feb 27: In tune with its distinction of being the first in several innovative projects, Hyderabad is soon going to have India's first commercial biodiesel production plant, if the plans of Southern Biofe Bio Fuels Pvt Ltd, the one of its kind start-up company, are materialized.

“With the help of several scientists and authorities of different science and technology organizations as well as the government, we have been working on the project for over 16months now. We plan to launch pilot production within a couple of weeks and we hope to fully commercialize it within a short time,” says N Satish Kumar, Director, Southern Biofe and Managing Director of Southern Online Services Ltd, a Hyderabad-based Internet Service Provider, whose promoters are behind the biodiesel venture.

Though its efforts in the State are going on silently, the company has already obtained positive response from financiers like the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), technology partners like Lurgi, Dermany, biodiesel users like Indian Railways and other fleet operators, and regulatory bodies like Pollution Control Board and other departments.

“Biodiesel is eco-friendly, biodegradable and apprised by Global Environment Protection Agency and World Health Organization. Many countries are already using it. In India, there are some small efforts by voluntary agencies like the one in Chalpadi village in Adilabad. Indian Oil Corporation is also doing a research project on this but its production is about 20 litres per day. Our initial production will be 30 tonne per day and we plan to scale it upto 300 tonne per day” Satish said

Satish had made a presentation on the project to the IFC during last December when he was invited to participate in the World Bank's Development Market place Global Competition and knowledge Exchange. The World Bank and IFC officials were impressed by the project and asked Southern Biof to get an appraisal of its business plan. Simultaneously, German Technological Cooperation (GTZ) came forward to finance the Rs.15-crore project and the plan is under assessment now.

“Biodiesel can either be used as 100 percent replacement to regular petroleum diesel or it can be mixed with regular fuel in 20:80 ratio. The first one is known as B100 and the second one B20. The biodiesel can be extracted from pongamia, jetropa, neem, rice brawn, etc. We are planning to use pongamia since it can be grown in wastelands and beneficial to farmers. The use of fuel will reduce air pollution,” he said.

American Standards for Testing Materials, National Bio Diesel Board, US as well as Bio Diesel Boards of several countries have approved the use of biodiesel. Even major automakers like General Motors, Ford, Mercedes Benz, DiamlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Skoda also approved its use. In fact, DiamlerChrysler has set up a research project in India to explore biodiesel opportunity.

“The project is commercially viable. Indian Railways showed its interest in picking up our production, subject to lesser price than the regular diesel and quality as ASTM. Our price will certainly be competitive and biodiesel has already acquired ASTM certification. We also received positive response from diesel user community in general,” he said.