Italy's Versalis signs MoU to develop butadiene from biomass

24 July 2012 10:05  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Italian elastomers manufacturer Versalis said on Tuesday it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Genomatica and Italy-based biodegradable plastics firm Novamont to develop polymer-grade butadiene (BD) for production from renewable feedstocks.

Versalis – until recently known as Polimeri Europa – is a petrochemicals producer owned by Italian oil and gas major Eni. Genomatica is a US-based biotechnology firm.

The partnership, “on the basis of which a joint venture will be established, will develop a comprehensive ‘end-to-end’ process for production of polymer-grade [BD] from biomass,” Versalis said.

Versalis will hold a majority interest in the joint venture holding firm, and plans to build commercial plants using the process technology upon the completion of the project.

Decreasing supplies and a lack of dedicated BD production facilities has resulted in significant long-term pressure on the price of the chemical, which in turn increases the price of BD-based products, including tyres, Versalis said.

Concerns of scarcity in the BD market are compounded by growth forecasts in Brazil, Russia, India and China, where demand for automotive products made from BD is expected to increase.

“In this context, [BD] supplies from biomass become strategic to Versalis, because in times of C4 stream scarcity it can be freed from [the] naphtha cracking processes,” the company added.

By: Nurluqman Suratman

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