Carbon dioxide to ethanol: Chennai-based Ramcharan springs another surprise

The company has already tied up in this regard with Nikhil Gadkari-led Manas Agro and Infrastructure on Monday to convert various effluents discharged into energy and value-added products

Even as India aims to achieve a 20 per cent blend of petrol with ethanol by 2025, the price of ethanol could become a concern for oil-marketing companies (OMCs). If the claims made by Chennai-headquartered firm Ramcharan Company are to be believed, the company’s technology for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into ethanol could produce fuel-grade ethanol for Rs 35 per litre, suitable for fuel blending.


The company has already forged a partnership with Nikhil Gadkari-led MANAS Agro Industries & Infrastructure to convert various effluents into energy and value-added products. Nikhil Gadkari is the son of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.


In December 2021, the relatively unknown Ramcharan Company made headlines by securing a $4.14 billion investment for a 46 per cent stake from US-based fund TFCC International, raising the company’s valuation to over $9 billion.


Using Ramcharan’s solutions, MANAS aims to develop systems that can lead to a zero-discharge unit. Ramcharan is currently in the process of establishing a CO2-to-ethanol plant at MANAS’ location in Nagpur. It employs a patented mini-reactor to convert any volume of discharged CO2 into fuel-grade ethanol, suitable for fuel blending.


Ramcharan is also in talks with companies like the public sector coal major Neyveli Lignite and players in the power, steel, and cement sectors, among others, to share this technology.


“We are likely the only company worldwide with a patent for such technology, offering ethanol at a lower price of Rs 35 per litre. This stands in contrast to the higher price range at which OMCs currently procure ethanol. Furthermore, there are no input costs,” states Kaushik Palicha, owner of Ramcharan, in an interview with Business Standard.


This is in comparison to prices of Rs 49.41 per litre for ethanol from C-heavy molasses, Rs 60.73 per litre for B-heavy molasses, and Rs 65.61 per litre for ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar, and sugar syrup, procured by OMCs.


With over 50 patents across various applications, Ramcharan is now commercialising different products. The production of fuel-grade ethanol from CO2, achieved by this product, is a special engineering accomplishment that addresses carbon capture challenges and reduces India’s carbon footprint.


According to the company, setting up a 70,000-tonne-per-day plant would cost around Rs 50 crore.


“This technology and its application in the Indian industry will significantly contribute to India’s journey towards reducing its carbon emissions, one step at a time. Industries can use this technology to move towards carbon neutrality and eventually add value by converting carbon emissions into value-added products,” Palicha added.


At the time of funding, TFCC had cited Ramcharan’s unique waste management technology as the reason for the higher valuation. Last year, the company also secured a $2.2 billion deal with Ghana-based Masri Company to supply waste-to-energy units, generating approximately 300 megawatt of power for Ghana.


Additionally, Ramcharan secured a $700 million deal with Kafkaz Finans in Baku, Azerbaijan, to supply waste management units.



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