Finnish energy company St1 has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ubon Bio Ethanol to launch a pilot project producing bioethanol from cassava waste, St1 announced in January.

The aim of the project is to eventually set up a joint venture for ethanol production in Thailand.

According to St1, Thailand already uses more than 3M litres/day of ethanol as transport fuel, which the Thai government plans to raise to 11.3M litres/day by 2036.

Following worldwide studies of various potential food wastes to use in bioethanol production, St1 discovered that cassava starch in Thailand is one of the best feedstocks for its Etanolix technology.

“The amount of cassava waste generated by Thailand's largest starch production plants would enable the construction of units producing 10-30M litres of ethanol/ year. Our goal is to build as many as 20 Etanolix plants in Thailand, with a combined production capacity of 400M litres of ethanol/year," said Patrick Pitkänen, head of business development and sales at St1.

St1 partnered with Ubon Bio Ethanol Company Limited for the project, which is the largest cassava ethanol producer in Thailand. Ubon Bio Ethanol has a starch and ethanol plant in Ubon Ratchathani.

Design engineers were working on the pilot equipment with the pilot launch scheduled for a later point this year, according to Pitkänen.