InterviewDow, Mitsui to begin Brazil biopolymers plant in 2012

21 July 2011 18:19  [Source: ICIS news]

By Doris de Guzman

NEW YORK (ICIS)--US-based Dow Chemical and Japan’s Mitsui & Co’s planned 50:50 biopolymers joint venture (JV) expects to start construction of sugarcane-based ethylene and polyethylene (PE) production facilities in Brazil by 2012, a Dow official said on Thursday.

Capacity of the biopolymers facility was not disclosed, but it will be a worldscale plant, said Dow Chemical spokesman Gregory Baldwin.

The facility will primarily produce performance linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) biopolymers, he added.

“We intend to produce biopolymers focused on the high-performance flexible packaging and hygiene and medical markets. Our goal is much wider than producing green polyethylene,” said Baldwin.

Dow and Mitsui expect to finalise the JV by the end of 2011, subject to regulatory approvals.

The partners plan to first build a sugarcane-to-ethanol production facility in Santa Vitoria, Minas Gerais, with a capacity of 63m gal/year. Construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2011.

Construction on the biopolymers production facility will start in 2012 and will be fully back-integrated into the ethanol production. This will enable sustainable production of performance plastics with a reduced carbon footprint, said Baldwin.

In Brazil, Braskem is already producing sugar-based polyethylene at its 200,000 tonne/year plant in the Triunfo Petrochemical Complex in Rio Grande do Sul, which started production late last year.

Braskem is also planning to construct a world-scale green polyethylene plant with a capacity of around 900m lb/year (408,000 tonnes/year) that will be fully back-integrated into ethanol from sugarcane.

When asked about Braskem’s lead in Brazil’s biopolyethylene sector, the Dow official noted the presence of booming biopolymers markets throughout Latin America,  not only in Brazil.

“Consumers are more and more turning to sustainable solutions. We are certain that there is plenty of market for biopolymers,” said Baldwin.

By: Doris de Guzman
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