Denmark’s Union Engineering has signed an agreement with Resources Jaya Teknik Management Indonesia (RMI) for the development of Dry Ice Expanded Tobacco (DIET) plants in Indonesia.

RMI is a company active in capturing CO2 from industrial waste in the country, and is expanding its business into the tobacco industry – making it the first non-tobacco company in the world to enter the sector.

RMI therefore signed the agreement with Union Engineering for the development of Dry Ice Expanded Tobacco (DIET) plants in Indonesia, a deal that was actually signed on the sidelines of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Under the agreement, Union Energy subsidiary AircoDiet will supply RMI with two DIET plants with a processing capacity of 600 kilograms of tobacco per hour. Total investment is pegged at US$12 million.

The two DIET plants will be built in Cilegon, Banten, near RMI’s current CO2 capturing facility that processes the emissions from state-owned PT Krakatau Steel to extract the CO2 and sell it off.

The new DIET plants will use CO2 captured from Krakatau Steel to process tobacco from farmers in Wonosobo, Central Java, with the end product to be sold to Sumatra Tobacco in Medan, North Sumatra.

DIET plants expand the volume of tobacco being processed by 100% and remove the nicotine and tar. DIET is needed in the production of all non-clove cigarette as well as low-nicotine and low-tar clove cigarettes.

“DIET contains no nicotine and no tar,” said AircoDiet Managing Director Asbjorn Schwert. “DIET technology makes it possible for 100% control of the amount of nicotine and tar in cigarettes. This is why everybody wants it.”

Union Engineering, in cooperation with Philip Morris, developed DIET technology in the 1970s. All major cigarette producers worldwide now have their own DIET plants to produce DIET tobacco.

Schwert noted that RMI would be the world’s first non-tobacco company to build a DIET plant, according to a report in The Jakarta Post. RMI Operations Director Isnanto Wongsosentono added that the company would expand its DIET and CO2 purification plants, if demand increased.

“We’ll also look into other possible uses of CO2 in other industries,” he said. “We’ve already identified two industries — paper and sugar mills — as possible users for bleaching processes, for which they currently use chemicals.”

RMI’s CO2 purification plant in Cilegon produces 1 million tonnes of liquefied CO2 per hour and the company plans to expand its plants to produce up to 9 million tonnes per hour – with a total investment of $31.8m.