Haldor Topsoe, a Danish catalysis company along with Brazilian company Braskem has announced the commissioning of a demonstration unit for development of MEG (monoethylene glycol) from sugar. The Lyngby, Denmark based plant’s full operationalization will be a decisive step forward for confirming the economic and technical feasibility of producing renewable monoethylene glycol from sugar on industrial scale, which is planned to be commenced in 2023.
There has been laboratory experiments which confirmed the possibility of producing MEG, which is a key component of PET resin, from sugar; however the industrial scale production has not realized yet. The successful industrial scale adoption of the process promises to bring down the extra production cost involved in producing bio-based MEG along with boosting the competitiveness of the process.
The Lyngby plant has demonstrated the production of 100 ton glycolaldehyde which is later converted to MEG in the next step. The companies stated that the pre-commissioning and construction of the MOSAIK process have been completed as planned. The next step involves the start-up of operations to achieve technical targets to confirm whether the process is economically feasible or not. Operations will begin by 1 March 2019.
The cooperation agreement between the two companies was announced in 2017 which focused on developing a new process to convert sugar into MEG at a single unit. MEG is used to manufacture PET resin which is widely used in packaging and textile industries especially to make bottles.
Executive Officer at Haldor Topsoe, Kim Knudsen said that the company is a global leader in catalytic industry. He added that together with Braskem, they intend to take the next step towards the validation of industrial scale production of bio-based MEG through the MOSAIK process. The project shows that the new catalytic technologies can make bio-based MEG a commercially viable option.
The unit in Denmark can produce hundreds of tons of glycolaldehyde annually which can be converted to MEG. The goal of the plant is to convert various raw materials like second generation sugars, dextrose and sucrose to MEG. MEG is currently made from fossil based feed-stocks like naphtha, coal or gas.