NPE ’12: Braskem in bid to be world leader in sustainable chemistry

04 April 2012 20:05  [Source: ICIS news]

A Braskem signORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--Braskem said on Wednesday that it will leverage Brazil’s vast acreage of unused arable lands and expanding sugarcane production to establish itself as the world’s leader in sustainable chemistry by 2020.

Rodrigo Belloli, marketing manager for Braskem’s renewable chemicals division, said the company plans to steadily upgrade its bio-based petrochemicals production over the next eight years to broaden its early lead in green chemicals.

At a recently commissioned bio-based plant in southern Brazil, Braskem is already producing 200,000 tonnes/year of polyethylene (PE) from sugarcane ethanol feedstock, along with 30,000 tonne/year of bio-based polypropylene (PP) from the same raw material.

Belloli, speaking on the sidelines of the 27th triennial National Plastics Exposition (NPE), said that Brazil is ideally suited to become the world centre for sustainable chemistry.

Brazil is a continental country with a wide variety of lands and available arable land,” he said, noting that Brazil has about one-third more arable land than the US.

He also said that Brazil enjoys a large bio-diversity that sustains a broad variety of plant life, and the country boasts the largest watershed in the world.

The country’s vast size and its equatorial position ensure consistent solar radiation, he said.

Belloli said that Brazil’s sugarcane industry is expanding further into unused but arable lands in the country’s south and will continue to provide a growing supply of bio-based ethanol for sustainable chemicals production.

He emphasised that the expanding cane industry is not encroaching on Brazil’s endangered Amazon forest lands in the northern half of the country. The Amazon forest region is too hot and humid for sugarcane agriculture, he said, which thrives in Brazil’s southern plains where it is drier and the crop gets one necessary cold season.

He noted that one hectare of land – about the size of a soccer field/football pitch – can produce 82.5 tonnes of sugarcane, which in turn can be processed into 7,200 litres of ethanol. The ethanol is dehydrated to produce three tonnes of ethylene and polymerised to three tonnes of PE.

Sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), the NPE runs through Thursday of this week, 5 April.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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