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conference report | Green polymer chemistry

production of monomers for plastics such as PE and PET. According to Professor Andre Koltermann, group vice president of Süd Chemie’s corporate R&D unit, global biomass production amounts to between 120 and 165bn tonnes a year. Asia’s rice growing industry is the biggest potential source, contributing around 750m tonnes of rice straw a year.



‘green’ HDPE unit in Brazil has a capacity of 200,000 tonnes,

equivalent to 65,000 Hectares of sugar cane

Proesa technology, which generates C5 and C6 sugars in a continuous process from bio-mass cellulose. Chief technology offi cer Dario Giordano said the plant has now been in operation for 400 days continuously and many enzymes and 15 types of biomass feedstock have been tested. It is now building a new demonstration unit at Crescentino in Italy that will have capacity to make 40,000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol and will generate 15 MW of power from lignin by-products. Meanwhile, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has examined the feedstock potential of the country’s forests, where growth is expected to rise by 25% over the next fi ve years due to the effects of global warming. VTT’s Professor Ali Harlin, industrial biomate- rials research programme leader, said it has piloted manufacture of ethanol from lignocellulose with paper-making partner UPM. Biomethane can also be used in the olefi n supply chain by conversion of methanol to olefi ns (MTO) and VTT has also experiment- ed with wood oils and the manufacture of LDPE from tall oil.

German company Süd-Chemie has partnered with Sabic in the development of the SunLiquid process, which takes lignocelluose feedstocks and converts them to second generation sugars or ethanol for use in

Koltermann said the SunLiquid process can produce one tonne of ethanol from four tonnes of straw, which is the typical straw yield from one hectare of farmed wheat. The process is energy neutral and almost carbon neutral, offering an approximate 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to ethanol produced by petrochemical means. It has been running a 1,000 tonne/year demonstration plant since the beginning of this year.

China-based Cathay Industrial Biotech, which claims

to be the largest global producer of biobutanol at more than 7m gallons last year, is also moving into lignocel- lulose technology. The company’s director of interna- tional development Charlie Liu said it has developed a process to produce a bio-based PA5 monomer. The monomer is based on lysine converted via decarboxyla- tion to pentamethylenediamine, which can be combined with a biobased di-acid to produce a variety of PA5,X polymers including PA5,10, PA5,6, and PA5,4. Indian company Petron Scientech has developed an

ethanol to ethylene technology with a claimed conver- sion rate of near 100% and close to 99% ethylene selectivity. Wim van der Zande, director of the com- pany’s Netherlands-based operations, said the process is highly endothermic so heat recovery is built into its reactors. Petron Scientech has also supplied technology to

companies such as Oswal in India to maximise its use of sugar cane – the sugar is sold, bagasse is sent to fuel power stations, and the molasses used to make industrial ethanol. Greencol Taiwan (a JV between CMFC and Toyota Tshuho) has also taken the Indian company’s technology to produce mono ethylene glycol (MEG) monomer for bio-PET production at a new 100,000 tonne plant due to start up this year. Production of bio-based MEG is already commercial

– Coca-Cola being the most prominent user in its PlantBottle polymers. However, a fully bio-based PET requires the development of a commercial route for the purifi ed terephthalic acid (PTA) component. One solution to this challenge could be Avantium’s development of PEF from furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA) synthesised by dehydration and oxidation from carbohydrates. According to new business development director Dirk den Ouden, FDCA produced using its YXY Technology could act as a drop-in replacement for PTA to produce polyethylene

52 COMPOUNDING WORLD | December 2012

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