Dow Chemical advances green PE project in Brazil

14 November 2008 21:56  [Source: ICIS news]

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS news)--Dow Chemical and Brazilian ethanol producer Crystalsev plan to locate their joint venture sugar cane-to-polyethylene (PE) complex in the border region between Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais in southeast Brazil, a Dow official said on Friday.

The exact location of the project, which will have the capacity to produce 350,000 tonnes/year of  Dowlex linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), is expected to be announced next week, said Jorge Gomes, technology leader for base plastics at Dow Latin America.

He spoke at the 2008 Petrochemical Seminar, organised by US-based Polyolefins Consulting.

The fully integrated complex will be located in the north of Sao Paulo state or the south of Minas Gerais state, he told ICIS news on the sidelines of the seminar. Production is expected to begin in mid-2011, he said.

The joint venture has already secured environmental permits for the complex, and Crystalsev has commenced planting of the sugar cane, continued Gomes. Some 120,000 hectares of land will be required to produce sufficient ethanol, he said, noting that this will represents just 2% of Brazil’s total sugar cane plantation.

The sugar cane will be converted into ethanol in two ethanol mills, converted into ethylene and then converted into polyethylene (PE).

Brazilian polyolefins major Braskem is also developing a project to produce PE from sugar cane-based ethanol in Brazil.

Both the Dow and Braskem projects have a strong premise, even in a climate of falling crude oil prices, observed Jorge Buhler of Polyolefins Consulting.

Dow’s project provides the US group with the feedstock it needs to participate in the Brazilian PE market, while Braskem claims that it can command a premium for its PE output because it is derived from a renewable feedstock.

“There seems to be justification for both projects,” remarked Buhler.

The one-day seminar took place ahead of the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting, which starts here on Sunday.

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By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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