ADM’s glycerin-based PG onstream

This is already a two-week old news but I believe still worth mentioning. US agribusiness major Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) said its 100,000 tonne/year bio-based propylene glycol (PG) plant in Decatur, Illinois, had a successful start-up and is now producing industrial-grade PG using refined glycerin as feedstock.

The facility’s operations started-up in late March and over the next few months, ADM will ramp up the plant’s production capacity and work toward adding production of propylene glycol which meets USP specifications.

By the way, ADM also has the capability to manufacture PG from sorbitol, a corn-derived sugar alcohol.

ADM said it has performed a lifecycle analysis (LCA) on its bio-PG and reported that its product has an 80% reduction in GHG emission compared to traditional PG. ADM also said that its new facility is capable of producing 25% of the nation’s propylene glycol. The company assured that their bio-PG is is competitively priced.

Some additional information on bio-PG from a 2010 Soybean New Uses report by consulting firm Omni Tech International (commissioned by the United Soybean Board):

“Huntsman and Dow Chemical have also announced plans tomake propylene glycol from glycerin. Metabolic Explorer in France has announced abioprocess technology to produce propylene glycol from glycerin. With an abundance of crude glycerin from biodiesel plants, the economics for these new plants and processes are attractive. However, new uses for crude glycerin (Blog comment: such as epichlorohydrin??) have been found, which have driven up its cost and slowed the building of plants with this newer technology.”

According to Omni Tech, Arch Chemical, Dow Chemical, Huntsman and Lyondell are major petroleum-based PG producers with annual US capacity estimated at 1.59 billion pounds. The US has typically exported up to 27% or more of domestic propylene glycol production.

For PG supply and demand, North American demand was estimated in 2008 at 1bn lb/year. Of that, 26%-27% is utilized in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins and about 22% is used in de-icing fluid, engine coolants and industrial heat-transfer fluids. Liquid detergents account for another 15% of demand. Food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical use accounts for 20% of the market. The balance is used in a wide number of smaller applications, including paints and coatings.

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