The petrochemical industry's search for sustainable feedstocks has prompted another major producer to look at sourcing ethylene from sugars, via ethanol, so as to be able to make polymers such as polyethylene and PET with a "green" credential.
Braskem’s new green ethylene plant in Triunfo
The technology is already in use in Brazil, where sugar cane has long been used as a source of ethanol. Braskem
and Dow Chemical
have separately announced plans to make ethylene and polymers using this route. And Solvay has plans to make PVC
from bio-ethylene in the country.
Now, in Europe, Total Petrochemicals
has developed proprietary catalyst for converting ethanol into ethylene, in association with IFP Energies nouvelles and its Axens subsidiary.
The new technology will open the way, Total says, to "competitive production of bio-ethylene from renewable resources with lower energy consumption and lower CO2 emissions." It is expected that the technology will be ready for industrial implementation around end of 2011.
The alliance also covers production of other olefinic monomers from bio-derived higher alcohols which will be developed in parallel within the same technology platform.
“With this new approach we will be able to respond to a growing demand for plastics based on renewable raw-materials. Efficient alcohol dehydration will broaden the commercial potential of all the on-going developments in the production of second generation bio-based alcohols and contribute to sustainable application of such forms of bio-based feedstock”, says Bernadette Spinoy, Total Petrochemicals senior vice president for base chemicals.