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Evonik opens bio-feedstocks plant for nylon 12

By: Frank Esposito

July 31, 2013

Evonik Industries AG has opened a bio-feedstocks plant in Slovakia that will move the firm a step closer to production of sustainable high-performance plastics.

The plant is making amino lauric acid (ALS) in Slovenska Lupca. The material is based on palm oil and replaces similar petroleum-based materials. ALS yields a similar nylon 12 compound, officials with Essen, Germany-based Evonik said in a July 30 news release.

Officials added that the process has the potential to complement butadiene-based production of nylon 12. Development of the process was funded by Slovakia’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“In the long term, this new, alternative raw material makes us less dependent on limited fossil resources and provides our back-integrated production a second pillar to stand on,” performance polymers business unit head Gregor Hetzke said in the release.

Nylon 12 materials made using biofeedstocks from the new plant can be used in autos, sports and other markets. Evonik also is planning a new petroleum-based nylon 12 plant for Singapore.

The opening of the new plant in Slovakia continues an eventful 18-month period for Evonik. In early 2012, a fatal fire and explosion at a plant making nylon 12 feedstock CDT in Marl, Germany, resulted in the deaths of two workers. The accident led to severe global tightness of nylon 12, causing automotive suppliers to scramble to find replacement materials.

Evonik had the Marl plant up and running by the end of 2012. The firm followed up earlier this year by opening a new production plant in Marl making phthalate-free plasticizers.

Evonik has annual sales of almost $19 billion.