Braskem, Haldor Topsoe use new tech to make MEG from sugar

Author: Al Greenwood


HOUSTON (ICIS)--Braskem and Haldor Topsoe have produced its first batch of monoethylene glycol (MEG) from a new technology that cracks sugar, the companies said on Monday.

The next step is for Braskem and Haldor Topsoe to provide samples for testing and validation, they said. Those steps are essential for the subsequent decision to develop the technology on a commercial scale.

MEG is one of the two main feedstocks to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a plastic used to make beverage bottles and packaging. Companies with valuable brands have long sought to produce bottles and packaging with PET made with renewable content.

Finding a practical renewable route has proven elusive. Companies are still trying to develop one for the other main PET feedstock, purified terephthlatic acid (PTA).

They already have one for MEG, but it is a cumbersome route that involves dehydrating ethanol to produce ethylene. The ethylene is then run through existing chemical processes to produce MEG.

The technology being developed by Braskem and Haldor Topsoe provides a simpler route to renewable MEG.

The companies developed a monosacacccharide industrial cracker, known as MOSAIK, that cracks sugars to produce an intermediate product that can be converted to MEG, methyl vinyl glycoate or glycolic acid.

The technology also produces monopropylene glycol (MPG) in lower quantities.

The companies completed a demonstration unit in 2019 in Lyngby, Denmark. They have since built the remaining process units and has placed them in operation.

“This technology has the potential to revolutionise the PET market," says Gustavo Sergi, executive officer of renewable chemicals and specialties at Braskem. "That is why we are increasingly closer to start building this new value chain, so we can deliver the sustainable solution that society is looking for."

Braskem is based in Brazil and produces polyolefins. Haldor Topsoe is based in Denmark and provides catalysts and process technology.