25 March 2010 21:25 [Source: ICIS news]
Wacker started its 500 tonnes/year bio-based acetic acid pilot plant in ?xml:namespace>
The process called ACEO uses an enzymatic fermentation route, first producing ethanol and then acetic acid via a gas phase oxidation process. Acetic acid is one of the key elements of Wacker’s silicon polymers’ supply chain, said Stary.
“Due to rising prices of petrochemical raw materials and constant improvements in biotechnology, more and more bio-based production processes will become economically competitive for bulk chemicals too,” he said.
Wacker is also looking to develop two more bio-based acetic acid routes. The first is by converting biomass-based butanediol to methyl ethyl ketone and then to acetic acid, and the other by directly converting biomass to acetate.
Stary said the two routes are still very early in developments.
Another bio-based product the company is working on is the production of bioethanol-derived ethylene. Stary said they are preparing a small pilot plant for this process, which would then enable Wacker to produce green vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and polymers.
“Bioethylene could be used to replace our ethylene needs. The challenge is to make sure that all of our bio-based products will be economically competitive,” he said.
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