Ethanol from Bamboo, part of Assam’s 2023 green energy plans

In January 2023, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India, Hardeep S. Puri in the presence of Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, and the Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Labour and Employment, Government of India, Rameswar Teli presided over a run-up event to the India Energy week 2023 in Guwahati.

Read more: India Energy week 2023 run-up event in Guwahati to be graced by Union Petroleum Minister and CM of Assam

Bio-refinery by NRL

The Union Petroleum Minister inaugurated the iconic Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) Centre which has been set up as a bio-refinery unit for producing bio-ethanol from bamboo. After that, the dignitaries witnessed the signing of an MoU between NRL and the Government of Assam to set up three bamboo nurseries.

Read more: NRL Bio-refinery project

Each nursery will cover an area of five hectares to accomplish the secondary hardening of tissue-cultured bamboo saplings. Additionally, they will increase the number of samplings using macro proliferation. The three nurseries are to be set up in Golaghat, Nagaon, and Sonitpur in Assam.

Ethanol from Bamboo

The traditional source of ethanol is sugarcane. But, a populous nation like India cannot afford to divert sugarcane to ethanol production as doing so would result in a shortage of sugar. Sugar is a key component of the country’s diet.

According to the Pollution Control Board of Assam, bamboo is a lingo-cellulosic material that is abundant in Northeast India with a growing stock of more than 55 million tons per annum. Bamboo is a good source of cellulose which can be converted to glucose which can be again converted to ethanol by a fermentation process. The bi-product from the process in bio-coal containing a calorific value of 4,700 Kcal/kg, which is a fuel for producing steam, can be used for generating power.

The ash produced after burning the bio-coal contains potassium and silica which can be used as fertilizer. There is ‘zero’ waste from the process. The technology for ethanol production is provided by Chempolis, a Finnish company.

Read more: Bamboo Bonanza: Numaligarh Refinery to use Bamboo to Produce Ethanol – Sentinelassam

The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas also stated that bamboo cultivation brings out several societal benefits. Therefore, it is known as “Green Gold”. During its growth, bamboo absorbs CO2 from the air and releases O2 into the air. As bamboo grows very fast, it is an excellent means to create a carbon sink. One hectare of bamboo plantation can absorb 17 tonnes of CO2 from the air per annum. The three bamboo nurseries will generate saplings that can be planted on 15,000 hectares of land area. Thus, creating a carbon sink that will fix 2.6 Lakh tonne CO2 from the air/per year.


This project will generate employment in only in Assam but also in states situated near it. The commercial use of bamboo is expected to increase significantly in the region. The project is a step towards renewable sustainable energy production. In addition, it will hopefully reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuels. And also result in lesser emissions and reduces pollution.

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