Braskem and Haldor Topsoe commissions demo production unit for MEG from sugar

Braskem Renewable MEG Demo PlantBraskem and Haldor Topsoe have announced commissioning a pioneering demonstration unit for the development of monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar.

The operation of the pilot plant located in Lyngby, Denmark marks a decisive step in confirming the technical and economic feasibility of producing renewable MEG on an industrial scale.

As announced in 2017, the main focus of the agreement is the development of new technology for conversion of sugar into MEG at a single industrial unit which lessens the initial investment in production and therefore makes the process more competitive. MEG is made from PET- a resin that’s commonly used in the textile and packaging industries, especially for making bottles. The global market for MEG stands at around US$25 billion.

Kim Knudsen- Executive officer at Haldor Topsoe says, “Haldor Topsoe is a global leader in catalytic solutions and is driven to maintain its leadership in the renewable energy industry. We are pleased to embark, together with Braskem, on the next phase of the validation of the MOSAIK solution for producing biobased MEG. Our goal is to show that innovative catalytic technologies can make chemical products from biomass a commercially attractive option.”

The clients will start receiving the samples by early 2020. Denmark based unit has an annual production capacity of hundreds of tons of glycolaldehyde- a substance that is converted into MEG. The aim is for the plant to convert various raw materials, such as sucrose, dextrose, and second-generation sugars, into MEG. Presently, the compound is made from fossil-based feedstocks, such as naphtha, gas or coal.

Gustavo Sergi – Director of Renewable Chemicals at Braskem quotes, “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.”

Current processes to produce MEG from biomass involve several steps. MOnoSAccharide IndustrIal Cracker or MOSAIK is a simple, two-step solution for the cracking of sugars to an intermediary product which can be further converted to monoethylene glycol (MEG) or other biochemicals, such as methyl vinyl glycolate or glycolic acid by using Haldor Topsoe’s patented processes and catalysts. This pioneering process has lowered investment costs and boosted productivity. This, in turn, has made the production of MEG competitive on commercial terms with the traditional process from fossil feedstock (naphtha).

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