Versalis to restart Italian cellulosic ethanol plant

By Erin Voegele | March 09, 2020

Versalis, the chemical subsidiary of Italian oil and gas company Eni, announced in February that the cellulosic biorefinery it acquired from the Mossi & Ghisolfi Group in 2018 will restart operations during the first half of 2020.

The company said it has invested more than €15 million ($17.18 million) to upgrade the facility, which is located in Crescentino, Italy, and employs Proesa technology developed by Beta Renewables.

Versalis purchased a group of green businesses owned by the Mossi & Ghisolfi Group, including Biochemtex and Beta Renewables, in late 2018. The acquisition was completed via a bidding process ordered by the Court of Alessandria in Italy. The Mossi & Ghisolfi Group filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Mossi & Ghisolfi Group broke ground on the cellulosic facility in April 2011. The plant celebrated its grand opening two years later in October 2013 and was operating at an industrial scale in early 2016, but shut down the following year when Mossi & Ghisolfi went bankrupt.

In a statement released on Feb. 8, Versalis indicates some portions of the biorefinery have already resumed options. This includes the biomass power plant, which can be fueled with lignin, and part of a water treatment plant that includes biogas production.

The facility was designed for industrial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol. Information released by Versalis notes work is ongoing to develop other products made from cellulosic sugars produced with the Proesa technology, including bio-oils, biodegradable polymers, and intermediates for biobased polymers and chemicals. Trials are also underway to develop new market applications for lignin.

Additional information is available on the Versalis website