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Braskem and Haldor Topsoe start up demo unit for developing renewable MEG

Braskem, the America’s largest petrochemical producer and the world’s leading biopolymer producer, and Haldor Topsoe, a world leader in catalysts and technology for the chemical and refining industries, commissioned a demonstration unit for the development of monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar.

MEG is used to make PET, a resin that is widely used in the textile and packaging industries, especially for making bottles. The global market for MEG currently is at around US$25 billion. Currently, the compound is made from fossil-based feedstocks, such as naphtha, gas or coal.

Located in Lyngby, Denmark, the pilot plant’s operation marks a decisive step in confirming the technical and economic feasibility of producing renewable MEG on an industrial scale.

Announced in 2017, the cooperation agreement focuses on developing a new technology for converting sugar into MEG at a single industrial unit, which reduces the initial investment in production and consequently makes the process more competitive.

Starting in 2020, clients will receive samples to test in their products. The unit built in Denmark has annual production capacity of hundreds of tons of glycolaldehyde, a substance that is converted into MEG. The goal is for the plant to convert various raw materials, such as sucrose, dextrose and second-generation sugars, into MEG.

MOnoSAccharide Industrial Cracker—MOSAIK—is a solution for cracking of sugars to an intermediary product which can be further converted to monoethylene glycol (MEG) or other biochemicals, such as methyl vinyl glycolate or glycolic acid, using Haldor Topsoe’s patented processes and catalysts. Innovation Fund Denmark has co-financed the development and upscaling of MOSAIK.

Current processes to produce MEG from biomass involve several steps. This can be reduced to two simple steps with MOSAIK and Topsoe’s catalyst and technology for the production of MEG. The new solution brings down investment costs and boosts productivity to a level, where it can compete on commercial terms with traditional production from fossil feedstock (naphtha).

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