NUMALIGARH:Generation of renewable energy is one of the foremost objectives of the world today in its fight against anthropogenic climate change. Out of the 12 Second Generation (2G) Bioethanol plants that have been commissioned by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India, towards the aim of rolling out 20% bioethanol blending in fuel by 2025, Assam BioRefinery Private Ltd (ABRPL) is the only Biorefinery that would use bamboo as primary feedstock for biofuel production.
Industrially feasible application of bamboo biomass in energy production hinges on the secured and sustainable availability of quality plant material. Though about forty five species of bamboo grow naturally in Assam, their natural and cultivational propagation are dependent on the variable conditions of Nature. Mass cultivation for bamboos require appropriate biotechnological strategy offered by the in vitro technique of Plant Tissue Culture (PTC) or Micropropagation. Micropropagation results in the yield of millions of clones from a single healthy mother plant, leading to fast and efficient mass production of healthy saplings.
ABRPL is a joint venture between Numaligarh Refinery Limited, Assam, Chempolis Oy- a Finnish Biorefining company and Fortum- one of the largest energy producers in the Nordic power market. ABRPL is mandated to produce 60 million litres of bioethanol annually from 500000 metric tonnes of bamboo biomass. To make this process sustainable, there is a massive need for large scale plantation of disease-free robust genetically uniform bamboo saplings. Assam BioRefinery Private Limited (ABRPL) signed an MoU with Chroma Biotech LLP on 29th November 2022 for supply of Bamboo Tissue Cultured saplings for mass scale production of bamboos required for bioethanol production.
Chroma Biotech is a commercial Tissue Culture Laboratory in Dibrugarh, Assam= funded by NRL Ideation- which is engaged in mass production of superior quality tissue cultured saplings of bamboo. Founded during the Covid pandemic, Chroma Biotech signed an MoU with Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI), under Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Government of India in May 2021 to license high yielding variety/genotype of indigenous bamboo (Bambusa tulda) maintained in RFRI, Jorhat. This would facilitate easy availability of superior quality, genetically uniform Tissue cultured bamboo saplings for prospective bamboo farmers of the region and beyond.
Chroma Biotech fulfils eight of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN) by employing an all-female workforce in the laboratory- many of whom are from lower socio-economic groups of the region and by being engaged in the supply chain for generation of clean energy. This company has been founded by four partners- two of them are the promoters of Chroma Hydroponic Nurseries- an award-winning nursery of North-East India which is also one of the largest nurseries in the region. The forward integration of the Tissue Culture laboratory with the nursery gives a unique advantage to the TC lab in catering to an anchor customer. The Laboratory operations of Chroma Biotech are overseen by Dr. Amrita Kashyap Chaliha- an academic-turned-bioentrepreneur with an experience of twelve years of Biotechnology teaching, training, research and of setting up and operationalising a PTC laboratory at Dibrugarh University. The financial management of the company is overseen by prominent industrialist of the region, Mr. Chiranjeet Baruah who has twenty eight years of business experience having established three manufacturing units producing Mild Steel Ingots and Ferrosilicon.
The establishment of the bamboo biomass-based Bioethanol plant in the state has created numerous business and employment opportunities all along the bamboo supply chain. Further, an MoU has been signed between ABRPL and Punjab National Bank (PNB) to help farmers secure loans to cultivate bamboos and boost the bamboo economy of the region. Both the Central and state governments promote massive plantation of bamboos to supplement farm income, enhance availability of quality raw material requirement of industries and contribute towards environmental resilience to climate change.