Thailand Has Opened the World’s First Cellulosic Sugar Plant

Mitsui has joined forces with Kumphawapi Sugar to set up the world’s first cellulosic sugar plant, which began its operation last March and processes 15 tons of raw materials per day.

Mr. Dhanajchai Samsen, Chairman of the Udon Thani Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Kumphawapi Sugar in Udon Thani

Mr. Dhanajchai Samsen, Chairman of the Udon Thani Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Kumphawapi Sugar in Udon Thani, revealed that Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd., had joined forces with Toray Industries Co., Ltd., with a 1.7 billion baht grant from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), to set up the world’s first cellulosic sugar plant in Udon Thani. The model plant, located in the Kumphawapi Sugar Mill, opened in March and began its test operation in April. Cellulosic Biomass Technology Co., Ltd. has also been established to oversee its operation. With a large cane plantation area, Udon Thani produces about 15 tons of bagasse daily, roughly equal to the demand of this new plant.

“Toray Group’s research and development enabled it to extract cellulosic sugar from bagasse. A small prototype plant in Japan was set up to run test operations, in which five tons of bagasse was processed daily. Found to be safe and energy-saving, the production was successful and considered to be a green industry.”

Previously, the plant met with the villagers and reaffirmed its commitment to eco-friendliness. Thanks to new technology, the plant will be able to accommodate a range of raw materials such as bagasse, rice straw, and corn stover, which previously had to be discarded but can now be used to produce other products before they are incinerated to generate electricity. In addition to the 3-4 currently producible types of sugar, such as refined sugar, pure refined sugar, and raw sugar, the plant will be capable of manufacturing three more: cellulosic sugar, oligosaccharide, and olyphenon.

“It might be said that this plant makes use of cutting-edge technology and imported machinery while the other components are sourced domestically. A part of the plant will be open for site visits by students. The products that the plant manufactures are in demand among large companies, especially those involving sugar, energy, and animal feed,” Dhanajchai said.

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