Biopolymers | 2 MINUTE READ

Braskem Moves Closer to Developing 'Green' PET

With Danish technology partner, Braskem has started up renewable MEG demonstration unit. 


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In late 2017, I reported on Braskem forming a technological partnership with Danish-based Haldor Topsoe, that would put the company on the road to developing ‘Green’ PET, to add to its portfolio of biobased PE and EVA. The collaboration called for Braskem and Haldor Topsoe, a global leader in catalysts and technology for the chemical and refining industries, to explore a pioneering route for the production of monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar at a single industrial unit, which reduces the initial investment in production and consequently makes the process more competitive. MEG is one of two key components used to make PET, and has a current global market estimated at around  $25 billion.

The partners have now announced the startup of a pilot plant in Lyngby, Denmark, and say it marks a decisive step in confirming the technical  and economic feasibility of producing renewable MEG on an industrial scale. Built in Denmark, the unit has annual production capacity of hundreds of tons of glycolaldehyde, a substance that is converted into MEG. The goal is for the plant to convert various raw materials, such as sucrose, dextrose and second-generation sugars, into MEG. Currently, the compound is made from fossil-based feedstocks, such as naphtha, gas or coal. Starting in 2020, clients will receive samples to test in their products.

Haldor Toposoe’s MOSAIK (MonoSAccharide Industrial Cracker)  is a solution for cracking of sugars to an intermediary product which can be further converted to MEG or other biochemicals, such as methyl vinyl glycolate or glycolic acid, using Haldor Topsoe’s patented processes and catalysts. Innovation Fund Denmark has co-financed the development and upscaling of MOSAIK.

Current processes to produce MEG from biomass involve several steps. With MOSAIK and Topsoe’s unique catalyst and technology for the production of MEG, this can be reportedly reduced to two simple steps. The new solution brings down investment costs and boosts productivity to a level, where it can compete on commercial terms with traditional production from fossil feedstock (naphtha).

“The process for developing renewable MEG in partnership with Haldor Topsoe represents a major advance in competitiveness for Green PET. The partnership strengthens the leading role we play and adds value to our I’m green portfolio, which already features Green Polyethylene and Green EVA, both made from sugarcane. It also will further corroborate our vision of using biopolymers as a way to capture carbon, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Gustavo Sergi, director of Renewable Chemicals at Braskem.