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Evonik India Turning Organic Waste into a Green Energy Source

Vinod-ParemalEvonik, one of the world’s leading specialty chemicals companies based in Mumbai caters to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Evonik has been active in India for the past four decades via predecessor companies with close to 600 employees. Evonik has developed a biogas upgrading technology that makes best use of their High-Performance Polymer membranes. Evonik’s SEPURAN® Green, a polymer-based membrane solution aimed specifically for Oil & Gas Industries, with more than 300 references worldwide, have the highest CO2/CH4 selectivity and are therefore a superior technology for upgrading biogas. While talking to Nitisha from BISinfotech; Vinod Paremal, Regional President, Evonik – Indian Subcontinent talks about the SEPURAN® Green technology and its benefits for the industry leaders.

Kindly explain Evonik India and Evonik’s SEPURAN® Green Biogas Upgradation technology.  

Evonik is a creative industrial group from Germany and is one of the world’s leading companies dealing with specialty chemicals. In India, Evonik is represented in a wide array of business verticals through its 4 divisions – Nutrition & Care, Specialty Additives, Smart Materials, and Performance Materials. Evonik has been active in the country for almost four decades via erstwhile companies.

Today, Evonik’s long-term interests in the Indian market are made evident by the establishment of the following facilities by the company in the country:

  • Head office located in Mumbai
  • Production sites of Silica and Catalysts
  • Global Research, Development & Innovation centers for Health Care and Catalysts
  • Application Technology Labs for Coating Additives, Silica, Animal Nutrition, Functional Silane, Interface, and Performance

Evonik serves a wide range of industries like automotive, animal nutrition for poultry, aqua, etc., pharmaceuticals, paint & coating, construction, personal & home care, renewable energy, oil and gas, general industry, etc. with a specialized range of product portfolio and services. Evonik has a significant manufacturing footprint in India for products like Silica and Catalysts, we also serve the Indian market with products manufactured in other global locations. One of our key focuses in India has been our Polymer-based membrane technology, named SEPURAN® Green for Biogas purification.

An extensive upgrading and purification process is required before biogas can be fed into the natural gas grid or used as biofuel. SEPURAN® Green membranes have the highest CO2/CH4 selectivity and are therefore a superior technology for upgrading biogas. This selectivity of the membranes enables the production of high-purity biomethane with superior methane recovery. Through a skilful connection of SEPURAN® Green patented 3-stage-membrane based process, it is possible to obtain methane with a purity level of up to 99% from the raw biogas. This distinguishes the Evonik membranes from other membranes that are available for biogas purification.

Kindly explain the relevance of Evonik’s technology in the current GoI SATAT initiative.

The Indian Government, under their flagship SATAT (Sustainable Alternative to Affordable Transportation) initiative, envisages setting up 5,000 CBG plants by 2023-24 with a production target of 15 MMT.

A key requirement before biogas can be used as a Biofuel or fed into the natural gas grid is an extensive upgradation and purification process that removes impurities.

SEPURAN® Green patented solution, with more than 600 references worldwide, has the highest CO2/CH4 selectivity and is, therefore, a superior technology for upgrading biogas.

This superior selectivity of the membranes enables the production of high purity biomethane with increased methane recovery, distinguishing the Evonik membranes from other membranes that are available for biogas purification.

We believe that SEPURAN® Green can play an integral role in envisaging the vision defined under the SATAT initiative, in collaboration with various stakeholders.

What are the advantages of SEPURAN Green over traditional methods of biogas separation and upgradation?

With more than 600 references worldwide, the benefits are manifold with SEPURAN® Green, when compared to traditional technologies for biogas upgradation and enrichment.

  • The best price-performance of all biogas purification technologies
  • High methane yield of up to >99 % and high purities >99% (patented 3-stage process)
  • Gas fluctuation allowed range – 0 to 100% capacity
  • Highest energy efficiency (~ 0.2 kWh/Nm3 raw biogas)
  • Easy to operate, fast start & stop
  • No spare part needed, little maintenance
  • Biomethane provided at system pressure (16 Bar), dry, and in pipeline specification
  • No chemical use and no wastewater
  • Easy to scale up – containerized system

In addition, the SEPURAN® Green technology offers the purified CBG to be fed directly into the Gas grid as it offers consistent quality of biomethane, compared to other traditional technologies.

SEPURAN® Green technology can handle multiple feedstock options such as Agricultural waste (e.g., paddy straw), Press mud from the Sugar industry, Cattle dung, Poultry waste, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), Wastewater treatment plants, and Landfill.

What is the SATAT relevance for Agriculture, Sugar, and Animal husbandry industries (Poultry, Dairy, etc.), and how Evonik’s technology can be of merit? Can you elucidate the role of advanced technologies driving the next phase of growth for SATAT?

For a country like India, the scope of biogas is immense, owing to the availability of large biomass:

  • Compressed Biogas plants can provide effective waste disposal management from the agriculture sector. India, an economy dominated by agrarian activities, almost has a contribution of 16% to the GDP from agriculture and engages roughly 58% of the population. Agriculture wastes can be used to produce Compressed Biogas for revenue out of waste instead of being burned or unprocessed disposal. The sludge remaining in the CBG plant as a by-product can be also sold as a good quality bio-manure, thus providing additional revenue sources from the CBG plant.
  • In the sectoral division of energy potential of various forms of wastes generated in India as given by the MNRE, Urban Waste, Cattle Farm and Poultry were clearly the front runners, but surprisingly the Sugar Industry features high up in the list. The country’s sugar industry can be a significant multiplier while assisting the production of alternate fuels. As press mud contains an appreciable proportion of biodegradable organic matter, it has very good potential for the production of Compressed biogas.
  • Biogas from various waste and biomass sources in the country lead to multiple benefits viz. reduction of natural gas import, reduction of GHG (Green House Gases) emission, reduction in burning of agriculture residues, remunerative income to farmers, employment generation, effective waste management, etc.
  • The Indian government intends to build 5,000 CBG units under the SATAT project by 2023-24, with an output target of 15 MMT.
  • Indian policymakers have given a positive thrust to this market to gain significant interest from investors and entrepreneurs. As of August 2021, 2407 LOIs have been issued, 13 plants have been commissioned and 1826 Tonnes of CBG have been sold.
  • Technology innovation that helps CBG projects become profitable and sustainable will be crucial for fuelling the next stage of growth for the CBG sector.
  • A key requirement before biogas can be fed into the natural gas grid or used as biofuel is an extensive upgradation and purification process that removes impurities.
  • Sustainable technologies like SEPURAN® Green for biogas upgradation can play an integral role by supporting Indian Investors and Entrepreneurs looking to set up CBG plants with CBG outputs that are efficient in terms of resource input and cost, as well as environmentally sustainable.
  • A collective effort from all involved players will lead to the effective and full implementation of India’s biogas program.

What are the benefits of Evonik SEPURAN® Green for investors and entrepreneurs, in gaining maximum benefit from bio methanation projects?

The impetus to CBG from the Government and now inquisitiveness and commitment of various agro-based industries also raises an important question for the investors and entrepreneurs on the profitability as CBG projects require huge investments.

The answer lies in advanced technology. The stakeholders and especially the OEMs in the CBG sector will have to focus on progressive technologies to maintain plant profitability to compete with other forms of energy generation and eventually become sustainable.

The main function of these CBG plants is to obtain the purest form of bio-methane out of the various wastes. Anaerobic digestion is traditionally followed to obtain biogas, but it’s the purification process that will help obtain the alternative fuels – CBG, which is the driver for the SATAT initiative.

While traditional methods for biogas purification and upgradation continue to exist, global technology innovators have also introduced the latest technologies for purification and upgradation, breakthroughs that not only offer high-grade purity of methane but are also sustainable for the environment.

One such breakthrough method of biogas separation and purification is Membrane technology, a relatively new and promising technology. Membrane separation technology is particularly alluring for biogas purification due to its lower energy consumption, high selectivity, easily engineered modules, and therefore, lower operating costs. High methane recovery efficiency can be reached (>95%), while pure Bio-CO2 can be obtained as a by-product for other industrial purposes, augmenting the business. Evonik’s latest Membrane technology deploys highly selective polymer membranes under the brand name “SEPURAN® Green” which converts raw biogas simply and efficiently into highly pure CBG (biomethane).

Kindly share your future marketing strategy for the growth of SEPURAN® Green in India?

We have been closely working with various OEM partners in India to define a strategic partnership, for Evonik SEPURAN® Green membrane technology deployment across various projects in India.

We have been also engaging with relevant stakeholders in Oil and Gas marketing companies, relevant ministries of the Government of India to participate in technology-driven awareness campaigns on the SATAT initiative, to generate awareness and interest amongst investors and entrepreneurs on the benefits of CBG projects.


Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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