Chandigarh, February 11, 2019 – Virgo Corporation today signed a landmark memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Punjab for a biomass-based project that is poised to transform how local farmers dispose of crop stubble. The project came about with assistance from the U.S. Embassy’s Foreign Commercial Service, which identified the potential for a specific U.S. technology to transform leftover crop stubble from Punjab’s rice paddies into biofuel, and connected the U.S. and Indian business partners. Following the connection made by the U.S. Embassy, Virgo Corporation and U.S. technology partner Honeywell signed an MOU in December 2018 to develop the project.
“This project demonstrates how collaboration toward a common vision can bring about sustainable solutions and positive change,” said Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster, remarking on the MOU. “When companies and governments come together, share resources and expertise, and develop new and innovative approaches, the potential benefits to society can be substantial.”
The project will use Honeywell’s RTPTM (Rapid Thermal Processing) technology that converts crop stubble into biocrude – a renewable fuel oil that provides a sustainable, cost-effective, and virtually carbon-neutral alternative for heat and power generation in industrial applications. It also can be used in existing refineries for further co-processing into transportation fuels, such as renewable gasoline and renewable diesel.
This endeavor incentivizes farmers in Punjab to sell their stubble in lieu of burning it, thereby benefiting the local economy and environment. The project also supports the Government of India’s requirements for national biofuel blending targets, as well as important air quality initiatives, such as the National Clean Air Programme.
Working closely with the State of Punjab on the crop stubble collection and storage aspects, the business partners anticipate that collection could begin with crops harvested in the fall of 2020. The two-month collection period, which normally coincides with annual spikes in air pollution related to burning, could potentially ensure enough crop stubble to produce a steady supply of biofuel production throughout the year.
Ambassador Juster was joined at the MOU signing by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Finance Minister Manpreet S. Badal, Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion CEO Rajat Agarwal, and representatives from Virgo Corporation and Honeywell. Based on the commercial viability of the project, investors have already shown interest.