Clariant and Eta Bio announce license agreement on sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol technology in Bulgaria

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  • The agreement marks the fourth signed license deal for Clariant’s sunliquid® technology
  • Eta Bio Ltd., was established by the Pavlovi family, that manages one of the largest agricultural businesses in Bulgaria, in order to extend their business into renewable energy
  • The company intends to realize a full-scale commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol at a site in Northeast Bulgaria with Clariant’s sunliquid® technology
  • License deal represents another milestone toward the commercialization of sunliquid® technology for advanced biofuels in Europe

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Muttenz, July 27, 2020 – Clariant, a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company, and Eta Bio, a company of the Pavlovi family, running a leading business in the agricultural sector in Bulgaria, today announced that a license agreement for the sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol technology has been signed.

Eta Bio has been recently established with the purpose to construct, own and operate a full-scale commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues. For Clariant, the announcement of its fourth license agreement keeps the momentum for its innovative and sustainable sunliquid® technology going and represents another significant step towards its commercialization.

“Our sunliquid® technology is trendsetting for the development of sustainable and advanced biofuels. The continued success strongly demonstrates that our technology meets the market needs for sustainable solutions and gives us a competitive edge”, said Hans Bohnen, Clariant’s Chief Operating Officer.
“After signing license agreements with first-generation ethanol producers, as well as mineral oil players, we are excited to also gain a foothold in another important customer segment – the agricultural sector – with our sunliquid® technology”, adds Christian Librera, Clariant’s Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives.

Eta Bio will perform the project development and plant operation at a greenfield site in General Toshevo, the Northeastern region of Bulgaria, utilizing available land, owned by the Pavlovi family, and existing infrastructure. The annual production capacity is planned to be 50,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol, processing around 250,000 tons of wheat straw, which is an abundant resource in the region, also known as the granary of Bulgaria.

“The realization of the first Bulgarian cellulosic ethanol production project will help to solve one of the main challenges agricultural producers face in the region – the removal of the straw from the fields. This project will give us the chance to have an additional revenue stream from agricultural leftovers”, emphasized Kiril Pavlov, Managing Director of Eta Bio.

By using locally sourced feedstock, greenhouse gas savings can be maximized and additional business opportunities along the entire value chain will arise.

“We are excited to enter the renewable energy sector with this project and hence become a pioneer in the advanced biofuels market in Bulgaria. This undertaking will allow us to further diversify our business portfolio, as well as strengthening our position in the agricultural sector”, highlighted Hristo Pavlov, who co-manages the agricultural business of the group.

For Bulgaria, this constitutes an essential investment in green, sustainable technologies. The produced cellulosic ethanol will be used as a gasoline additive to fulfill the country’s blending mandate for advanced biofuels, as laid out in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II.

The project is comprised of a license of a sunliquid® basic engineering package, the provision of technical services, as well as the supply of starter cultures from Clariant’s proprietary enzyme and yeast platform to process Eta Bio’s feedstock into cellulosic ethanol.

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Picture caption (from left to right): Hristo Pavlov, Managing Director, Eta Bio; Christian Librera,
Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives, Clariant; Kiril Pavlov, Managing Director, Eta
Bio and Ralf Hortsch, Head of Licensing & Services, Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives,
Clariant at Clariant’s site in Podari, Romania (Photo credit: Clariant)


Phone +41 61 469 63 63

Phone +41 61 469 63 63

Phone +41 61 469 63 63

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Clariant is a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company based in Muttenz, near Basel/Switzerland. On 31 December 2019, the company employed a total workforce of 17 223. In the financial year 2019, Clariant recorded sales of CHF 4.399 billion for its continuing businesses. The company reports in three business areas: Care Chemicals, Catalysis and Natural Resources. Clariant’s corporate strategy is based on five pillars: focus on innovation and R&D, add value with sustainability, reposition portfolio, intensify growth, and increase profitability.

sunliquid® is an innovative biotechnological method for manufacturing cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues such as cereal straw, corn stover or sugar cane bagasse. In the completely integrated process, highly optimized, raw material-specific biocatalysts decompose cellulose and hemicellulose in high yields under stable processing conditions into fermentable sugar. The process-integrated production of the biocatalysts offers flexibility and reduces production costs. In the next step, an optimized fermentation organism simultaneously converts C5 and C6 into ethanol with high yields and short reaction times. A highly optimized purification process is instrumental in enabling all the energy required for the process to be derived from the process byproducts like insoluble lignin. Since July 2012, Clariant has been operating a precommercial plant in Straubing, Germany, which produces up to 1,000 metric tons of cellulosic ethanol every year, confirming technical and economic performance. In September 2018, Clariant broke ground for its first-of-its-kind commercial facility in Podari, Romania, where the construction is currently underway. Clariant licenses its sunliquid® technology platform globally. So far, three license agreements have been executed with renowned industry players in Slovakia, Poland, and China.

Eta Bio Ltd (Bulgaria)
The Pavlovi family owns various companies in Bulgaria active in the sectors of agri production, essential oils, auto transportation, storage logistics, international trading of grains and oilseeds. The business founders are two brothers, Ivan and Ilko Pavlov. The family also invested in renewable energy by developing wind and solar parks that benefit from the wide availability of suitable land, converted for project purposes. Eta Bio Ltd (Bulgaria) is a special purpose project vehicle set up to build, own and operate a second generation bioethanol production plant located near the village of General Toshevo in the North-eastern corner of Bulgaria.


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