Dow and Brazilian Firms Make PE from Sugar Cane

Two Brazilian firms are developing methods of making polyethylene from ethanol derived from sugar cane.

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Two Brazilian firms are developing methods of making polyethylene from ethanol derived from sugar cane. The first to produce such a material is Braskem of Sao Paulo, which claims to be the largest producer of thermoplastics (PP, PE, and PVC) in Latin America. It uses sugar-cane ethanol to produce ethane and then ethylene monomer. Braskem has made HDPE in this manner. Shortly after Braskem’s announcement came word from Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., that it will form a joint venture with Crystalsev, one of Brazil’s largest ethanol producers, to build the first commercial-scale, integrated facility in the world to produce PE—specifically Dowlex LLDPE—from sugar cane. The 770-million-lb/yr plant is slated to come on-stream in 2011.

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