Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bio-on and Cristal Union build France’s first facility for the production of PHAs bioplastic

An agreement signed yesterday by Italian biotech company Bio-on and Cristal Union will see France’s first facility for the production of PHAs bioplastic from sugar beet co-products.
The two companies, operating in sustainable biochemistry and sugar, alcohol and bioethanol production, will work together to build a production site with a 5 thousand tons/year output, expandable to 10 thousand tons/year.

Requiring a 70 million euro investment, the facility will be located at a Cristal Union site and will be the most advanced biopolymers production site in the world. The new factory will create 50 new jobs specialised in fermentation to produce this revolutionary bioplastic.

PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are bioplastics that can replace a number of traditional polymers currently made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons. The PHAs developed by Bio-on guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties with the advantage of being completely naturally biodegradable.“We are investing in purchasing the license for this new technology developed by Bio-on,” says Cristal Union CEO Alain Commisaire, “because this all-natural bioplastic is an extraordinary tool that can contribute towards the growth of the French sugar industry, but with a modern, eco-compatible and eco-sustainable approach”.

“We will create Europe’s first PHAs production facility with France’s leading sugar production and trading company,” explains Bio-on S.p.A. Chairman Marco Astorri.

“We have granted the first technological license in line with our expectations and will also be creating a cutting-edge collaboration for management and development of the promising high-performing biopolymers business developed by Bio-on S.p.A. and produced in France by Cristal Union”.The collaboration between Bio-on and Cristal Union reaches an important milestone and adds another building block in the construction of the platform for bioplastic production in the future.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

$2 Million federal grant awarded for Port Angeles Composite Recycling Technology Center

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration announced a $2 million grant to the Port of Port Angeles to retrofit a building that will house the industrial and workforce training facilities for the Composite Recycling Technology Center (CRTC). 

“The Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to support workforce development and green initiatives and is deeply committed to strengthening America’s workforce and protecting the environment,” said Secretary Pritzker in the U.S. Department of Commerce news release. “This EDA investment supports recycling and environmental stewardship and will provide critical job training in Washington.” 

This federal grant was made possible by a $1 million commitment from the Washington State Clean Energy Fund, combined with an additional $1 million in local government funds for the needed dollar-for-dollar match. 

"This $2 million federal grant brings the Composite Recycling Technology Center one step closer to its goal of converting composite waste materials from our state’s advanced manufacturers into innovative new products,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “I’m pleased that our Clean Energy Fund matching grant contributed to this important funding milestone for the center. This is a tremendous example of a community with a vision for how clean technology will create jobs and opportunity to secure its economic future.” 

The Washington Legislature this year approved $40 million for 2015-17 Clean Energy Fund 2. The CRTC plans to apply for $1.35M in equipment funding, to be matched with local funding sources, to complete the final funding package needed for the CRTC to become operational. 

"Washington is already leading in carbon fiber production. Now we want to lead in carbon fiber recycling,” Senator Cantwell said. “Port Angeles is leading the way, and the Department of Commerce grant will help this community solve some of the recycling challenges,". Senator Cantwell has proposed S. 1432, the Carbon Fiber Recycling Act of 2015 (bill text and bill summary, to study technology and energy savings of recycled carbon fiber and directs the Department of Energy to collaborate with the automotive and aviation industry to develop a recycled carbon fiber demonstration project. At the hearing for this bill in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sen. Cantwell commended the Port for their leadership and vision in converting a displaced workforce and unused facilities into an innovative market that is creating local jobs, reducing landfill waste and saving energy by recycling scrap fibers. According to Sen. Cantwell’s opening statement; “The commissioner and her colleagues are working on innovations in composite materials that help improve fuel efficiency, whether we’re talking about automobiles or aerospace—and that market is expected to grow to $26 billion by next year.” 

“I’m proud to support the Port of Port Angeles in their work to provide workforce training and economic growth in the region in an innovative way,” said Senator Murray. “This investment in the Composite Recycling Technology Center will help support the Port's efforts to lay down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth and job creation that would benefit the community, the environment, and the local economy.” 

“This investment is recognition that our region is ready to be a hub for composite breakthroughs” said Representative Derek Kilmer. “When the new facility opens its doors it will help us grow quality jobs and show the rest of the nation how we can turn yesterday’s recycled parts into tomorrow’s advanced products. Everyone involved had their oars in the water, everyone rowed in the same direction. As a result, now we are seeing progress for the community.” 

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Evonik Expands Production Capacity of C4-based Products

Evonik Industries has strengthened its position in C4-based products and has successfully, and on time, put into operation new production plants in Antwerp (Belgium). Also in the Marl Chemical Park (Germany), the C4 capacities are being increased. For this, the company has invested a total amount in the three-digit million ranges (Euro) in the two sites. 

The new plants result in an expansion of capacities for butadiene in Antwerp, for the plasticizer alcohol Isononanol (Marl) as well as for the antiknock agent MTBE (Marl and Antwerp). According to market analyses, the global demand for these products increases by two to five percent per year. 

"By expanding our C4 capacities and the necessary and important investments into the supply of raw materials at our sites, we are sustainably strengthening our market positions. At the same time we are supporting our customers’ growth plans in Europe and worldwide," said Klaus Engel, Chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik. 

With long-term supply contracts, Evonik has sustainably ensured the raw material supply for the operation of the new plants. As a technology leader, Evonik has also for the first time made FCC- C4 material flows from refineries usable. This demonstrates Evonik’s technological excellence on C4 and is an important contribution to a sustainable production. 

Evonik has been a globally leading provider of C4 - based products such as butadiene, MTBE, isobutene, 1-butene, INA (Isononanol) as well as 2-PH (2-propylheptanol) and DINP (diisononylphthalat) for a long time. For this, Evonik operates integrated large-scale plants for the processing of C4 raw materials. The group offers its customers long-term logistics competence and an excellent global service network. 

With the expanded production networks in Antwerp and Marl, Evonik wants to further develop and strengthen its market positions in C4 chemistry for the long-term. 

Butadiene is mainly used in synthetic rubbers, for example for the manufacturing of tires. Furthermore, there is a wide range of application for elastomer and plastics. 

The anti-knock agent MTBE (Methyl -tert.-butylether) increases the octane number of fuels in petrol engines and results in an improved combustion of fuels in the engines. This way, MTBE contributes to a better air quality. 

Isononanol (INA) is mainly used as an alcohol component in the manufacturing of PVC plasticizers. Plasticizers based on INA are characterized by excellent properties, both in the plastisol and thermoplastic processing.

About Evonik

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Evonik Demonstrates Use of SILP Catalyst Systems in Plasticizer Alcohols and more

Evonik Industries demonstrated for the first time in a pilot plant that innovative SILP catalyst systems can work reliably for about 2,000 hours. The high service life is important proof that these economically and ecologically interesting catalyst systems can be used on an industrial scale. SILP stands for Supported Ionic Liquid Phase and describes a technology with which homogeneous catalysts can be applied to solid materials, such as silicon oxides or aluminum oxide, with the help of ionic liquids. 

Scientists used the new catalyst systems in hydroformylation, an industrially important reaction that is used in the chemical industry to recover aldehydes from olefins and syngas. Among other things, aldehydes are a precursor for plasticizer alcohols; Evonik is one of the largest producers of C9/C10 plasticizer alcohols in Europe. Prof. Robert Franke, who is responsible for Innovation Management Hydroformylation in Evonik's Performance Materials Segment says, "With our research work, and especially in connection with Process Technology & Engineering, we are increasing our technology lead and making an important contribution towards keeping our integrated technology platforms and efficient processes effective." 

These days, in commercial hydroformylation only homogeneous catalysts are used as highly efficient reaction accelerators. Plus points for homogeneous catalysts are their high level of selectivity and activity at low temperatures. However, since they are dissolved in the reaction mixture, after the reaction they have to be separated and recycled, which requires a lot of effort. With heterogeneous catalysts that are available as solids, this is simpler. 

The new SILP catalyst systems combine the advantages of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts. While looking for suitable SILP catalyst systems for hydroformylation, over the last four years Evonik, together with the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Darmstadt University of Technology, was involved in the HY-SILP project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF (project number: 01RC1107A). 

Franke says, "The frontrunner was a rhodium complex with one ligand based on a polycyclic anthracenetriol structure. The ionic liquid consists of an imidazolium cation and an anion based on a binary amine." In the tests, this SILP catalyst exhibited long-term stability of more than 2,000 hours. Franke continues, "Hence, based on the published technology to date, our team was able for the first time to develop a SILP system with a degree of stability that is interesting for a technical process such as hydroformylation." 

Simulation of commercial hydroformylation with an additional integrated SILP catalyst system also reduced carbon dioxide by a good two percent compared to Evonik's process with a homogeneous catalyst, which is already quite efficient. Franke summarizes, "On the whole, the SILP catalyst produces good results, even if we are aiming to reduce CO2 even more. Several other issues still have to be clarified before this system can be used in a commercial plant: especially, we are looking for ligands that further increase the yield from hydroformylation and that also have even better service times." 

Source: Evonik