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jueves, 14 de junio de 2018

Avantium starts the construction of a bio-MEG demo plant based on its Mekong technology

Type of post: NEWS.

Avantium has just announced the commencement of the construction of a new plant that will demonstrate the production of biobased monoethylene glycol (MEG) directly from renewable sugars through its pioneering Mekong technology (see press release, 12/6/2018). The plant will be operational in 2019, employing up to 20 people. The objectives of the demonstration plant are: (1) to scale up the novel bio-MEG technology; (2) to validate the technical and economic feasibility of the process; (3) to collect data to execute an environmental life-cycle analysis (LCA) quantifying the sustainability benefits of the technology.

Alongside this important investment decision by the Dutch company, the European Innovation Council (EIC) has selected the Mekong technology as part of a program to bring innovations faster onto the market. The EIC has recently announced the investment of 146 M$ in 79 top-class innovative projects (see EIC press release, 24/5/2018).

MEG is one of the two monomers of the PET (the most important polyester currently) and of the PEF (a promising alternative). Synvina, a joint venture between Avantium and BASF, is leading the industrial efforts to commercialize PEF (see more information here). Today, more than 99% of MEG is generated from fossil resources and its market demand is expected to grow in the following years. Hence, the great interest of Avantium in producing bio-MEG. The Mekong technology is a 1-step, high atom efficiency process which, according to Avantium, is competitive with the oil based counterpart. Other companies are trying to validate a bio-MEG production process (see “Braskem and Haldor Topsoe to validate new bio-MEG production process in a demo plant”, 13/11/2017).

Figure 1. Simplified diagram of the Mekong technology

In the same press release, Avantium has confirmed that the biorefinery pilot plant for its Zambezi technology (high-purity glucose and lignin from non-food biomass) is nearing completion. More information about this pilot biorefinery: “Zambezi pilot biorefinery project takes the next step”, 19/7/2017.

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