Cashew-husk fuel – though it may sound impossible, it is actually just one of the numerous innovations being developed in the laboratories of Astra Bioplant - a biodiesel company located mainly in the Ruse region. It is part of the large group of the fuel producer and trader Bulmarket (rf. box) and was founded in 2007. Nowadays Astra Bioplant is among the leaders on the biodiesel market across the EU (in top 5).
In 2021 Astra Bioplant produced 360 000 tons of biodiesel and 20 000 tons of glycerin. A new production capacity for an additional 100 000 tons of second-generation biodiesel (produced from waste fats and other waste materials) is expected to be operational soon. The investment amounts to about EUR 17 Mil.
Astra Bioplant -
the Bulgarian Leader
The company is among the top 5 EU companies in sales share and has already concluded over 1 000 transactions for about BGN 10 Mil. through Auxionize
The Giant Bulmarket
в 50 категории
за над 100 млн. евро
сделки в Auxionize
~ 41 000
To produce first-generation biodiesel, Astra Bioplant buys huge amounts of sunflower and rapeseed, or more precisely - over 25% of the total sunflower produced in the country and over 50% of the rapeseed. The raw materials used for the production of second-generation biodiesel are the so-called fried oils, which are hard to find in Bulgaria and the company imports them mainly from Asia - Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Thailand. The next step is registration of a new company for the processing of used fats and renting a warehouse in China to collect such fried oils and other raw materials.
"Second-generation biofuels save 40% more carbon emissions than first-generation biofuels and nearly 10 times more than mineral fuels. Product innovations are constantly being developed by the company's laboratories, for example the ability to produce biodiesel from cashew husks," the company said. Over the recent years, the share of second-generation biodiesel in the total production of Astra Bioplant has reached 30% and the goal is to go as high as 60-65% in the next 3 to 5 years. "This is the fuel that best fits into the new low-carbon reality we are striving for," the company noted, adding that their long-term goal is for the company itself to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.
Biofuels’ Stellar Potential
Astra Bioplant was founded in 2007 as a subsidiary of Astra Finance - one of the companies of the Bulmarket group, owned by Stanko Stankov. The idea was developed after the introduction of the European Directive on biofuels, requiring a certain percentage of the fuels used in the EU to be of plant origin. This percentage is constantly growing – it is currently 7%, but by 2030 it will be at least 14, 3.5 of which will have to be second-generation biofuels - fuels produced from residual products (waste fryer oil, for example). First-generation biofuels are produced from oilseeds such as sunflower, rapeseed, soybeans, coconut and others.
In 2008 the first plant for vegetable oils and biodiesel of "Astra Bioplant'' started operating in Slivo Pole - a town in Ruse district. "In order to obtain the final product - biodiesel, we need to pass through a long chain of processes, starting with the sunflower and rapeseed plantations," said Kaloyan Ivanov, the company's Chemical Components expert. After the purchase and delivery of the main raw material - by land or water, the so-called crushing is carried out in the plant’s facilities – this is the process of extraction of crude oil, which is then used for the production of biodiesel.
"At this stage, we need chemicals and various chemical processes to obtain the final product - biodiesel, which we sell on the markets. We also have by-products - raw and pharmaceutical glycerin, and after grain crushing we produce high-protein meals. These products used for various applications are also offered by the company", said Ivanov.
Auxionize премахва излишната координацията между хора от различни отдели. И пести ресурсите на бизнеса.
Special project for
Idea and realization
Large Company - Bold Decisions
We have only one recommendation to the platform: “put a lot more effort into promoting this product. Not knowing about it would be a barrier for potential Auxionize users, and the benefits the platform offers are really numerous. We are also aware of the need for certain time to passso this model of doing business is essentially adopted by the society. Ivanov added that the company plans to expand the scope of its work with the platform to include tenders for logistics and construction of infrastructure and facilities within the company.
Biodiesel is an organic fuel, meaning it is produced from biological resources other than oil. These may be vegetable oils (soy, canola, sunflower, coconut) or animal fats. Biodiesel is also produced from waste fats and other waste products.
Biodiesel improves engine performance, increases its power, does not contain sulfur, reduces fuel consumption and last but not least - in many cases biodiesel is cheaper than conventional diesel. The combustion of this type of fuel in the engine cylinder is not accompanied by the formation of scale and the release of the so-called soot.
Biodiesel is the most promising and environmentally friendly renewable fuel of our time.
Имаме реализирани над 1000 сделки за около 10 милиона лева. Само от началото на годината сме провели търгове за над 1.5 млн. лв
оперативен директор в Auxionize
on the European
Astra Bioplant is part of the Bulmarket group - one of the largest companies in Bulgaria, whose main activity is focused on fuel production and trade. The group’s turnover in recent years is about BGN 2 billion, and according to this indicator the company is ranked first in the Ruse region and among the top 10 in the country.
The results for 2021 are even more impressive - the turnover exceeds BGN 3.5 billion.
The total volume of the direct effect of the Bulmarket Group's activities on the Bulgarian economy amounts to over BGN 1.014 billion - over 1% of the country's GDP and 0.7% of its exports.
The group includes more than 20 companies in two main fields. Bulmarket Group is the head of all companies engaged in the trade of mineral fuels and logistics activities, such as Bulmarket DM, Bulmarket Rail Cargo, Bulmarket Autotransport, Port Bulmarket, etc.
The second group of companies deals with the production, purchase and sale of grain, production of biodiesel, pharmaceutical glycerin and residual products. These include the first biodiesel plant in Slivo Pole "Astra Bioplant", the plant for crude vegetable oils and meal "Oleo Protein" and the second biodiesel and pharmaceutical glycerin plant "Oberösterreichishe Biodiesel Bulgaria", and the rented "High Protein" plant in Provadia. The next pending step is the registration of a new company for processing of waste fats and renting of a warehouse in China to collect frying oils and other raw materials suitable for the production.
At present, the group operates 30 production sites and its capacity is over 300 thousand tons of biodiesel alone per year. The investment program for 2020-2022 provides for over EUR 42 Mil. in various fields: biofuels (EUR 17 Mil.), railway transport, industrial park LVZ, etc. Astra Bioplant is among the top 5 companies in the EU in biodiesel sales and its aim is to increase the share of its own products in the total sales and keep its share of the European market.
What is Biodiesel
The beginning was difficult - Astra Bioplant contacted its existing network of suppliers - many of them had serious hesitations regarding joining, others directly refused. "This, however, did not stop us. A company like ours really needs transactions to be concluded as transparently as possible, to ensure traceability and reliability of the processes," explained Ivanov and added that since 2016 to date about half of the chemical raw materials the company needs are ordered and delivered using the platform. These include hydrochloric acid, liquid sodium hydroxide, citric acid, phosphoric acid and tableted salt.
"We have made over 1000 deals for about BGN 10 Mil. Since the beginning of this year alone, we have held tenders for over BGN 1.5 Mil.,” said the expert. "We realized that it makes sense to have confidence in this type of service, because it is revolutionary for the Bulgarian market. To be successful and competitive on the global market, large businesses need transparency, traceability and reliability. The other thing we need are quality raw materials - the product needs to have the exactly same specifications that we are looking for. We cannot afford even the slightest deviation both in our processes and in the quality level we aim for. The same goes for deadlines. We find all of the above in Auxionize. Thirdly, the platform allows us to reach better prices. When we gathered empirical data and compared the prices at which we purchased materials - even taking into account all factors such as seasonality, discontinued production, etc., we came to the conclusion that the prices of certain products had dropped by 30 to 40%. Since we need a number of various raw materials, Auxionize saves us time, as well. If we had to act according to the classic scheme involving inquiries to each individual supplier, collecting offers, comparing, holding negotiations - it would take us a lot of time and energy," explained Kaloyan Ivanov.
Astra Bioplant is aware of its responsibilities arising from its scale - “It allows us to set the tone for applying a sustainable business model and implement constant innovation. When you are that big and you take bold steps in a new direction, it affects all our contractors and all those who monitor our actions, if not our competitors as well. We took such a bold step in 2015, when we decided to work with the Auxionize reverse bidding platform", said Kaloyan Ivanov. At the time, the platform was completely new and challenging for our market, although the practice was already well-known in the United States.
"We all know that in the beginning, when it comes to anything new, there is both optimism and skepticism. We started conducting auctions for auto parts, for the supply of personal protective equipment for our plants, electrical components. A year later we decided to try with chemical raw materials, although we already had a developed supply network at the time. The costs are within the range of 1-2 percent of the turnover, but I believe that with a turnover of several billion, the amount would be significant,” said the specialist.