Brazilian petrochemicals and polymers group Braskem SA announced at K 2010 it has successfully completed early conceptual work on production of polypropylene derived from sugar-cane ethanol, and has committed to move ahead with basic engineering studies for commercial scale production.
The company said the timeline is for the basic engineering work to be completed during 2011. Subject to final approval, it will then commence construction of a commercial-scale plant with a minimum capacity of 66 million pounds a year of PP homo- and copolymer.
The company has earmarked $100 million for the project, which is expected to deliver its first commercial resins to the market in 2013.
We now have the green light for the basic engineering of this project, said Rui Chammas, executive vice president of Braskem's polymers division. We will deliver the first PP from this project to the market before the next K show.
Braskem started to supply its first bio-based polyethylene products earlier this year. The resins are produced using ethylene manufactured from sugar-cane ethanol at its new facility at Triunfo, Brazil.
The facility, which was officially opened in September, represents a $250 million investment and has the capacity to make 441 million pounds of bio-based PE a year.
Chammas said it already has sold 70 percent of the capacity of that facility to major brand owners, including Tetrapak and Procter & Gamble Co.
The route to production of bio-based PP is considerably more complex than production of PE. Braskem has been working on the chemistry required since 2008.
The company declined to disclose the specific route it will be following. It did, however, confirm that it is not using the enzyme-based fermentation technologies it is developing together with U.S.-based Novozymes since 2009.
Chammas declined to comment directly on the cost of the new bio-based resins, although the company has in the past spoken of premiums of around 30 percent for its bio-based PE products.