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Comment Sustainability

Recyclable and biodegradable plastics from plant sugars

By Gerald Ondrey |

Worley (North Sydney, Australia) has been awarded a FEED (front-end engineering design) contract to develop Avantium’s (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) flagship plant that will support the transition to a bio-based economy for plastics. The plant will produce 100% plant-based FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) – a key building block for many chemicals and plastics.

Avantium, a leader in renewable chemistry, has announced that its subsidiary, Avantium Renewable Polymers, will locate their new plant in Delfzijl, the Netherlands. The facility will use a novel technology that converts plant sugars into a wide range of sustainable chemicals and plastics, such as the next-generation plastic material PEF (polyethylene furanoate).

PEF is a novel, fully recyclable, bio-based polymer with improved barrier performance and thermal properties. It has the potential to make a significant impact on the packaging, textiles, and film industries.

Avantium Renewable Polymers has completed lab research to demonstrate its new YXY plant-to-plastics technology in a pilot plant. Worley is carrying out the FEED for the new plant that will make FDCA and PEF commercially available. They also completed the concept development phase in March and concluded that Avantium is ready to progress to commercial scale.

“The Worley team brings strong expertise in technology assessment and has extensive experience in scaling up first-of-a-kind plants. We highly value our collaboration with Worley in the next exciting stage of development,” says Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium.

Paul Seaton, president E&C Services Europe & Central Asia comments: “We are delighted to collaborate with Avantium in bringing this new plastic material to the market. Avantium’s technology development, operations of the pilot plant and experienced team inspires confidence for scaling-up towards a first commercial flagship plant and beyond.”

The PEFerence project is a five-year EU flagship project to establish a supply chain for FDCA and PEF. It has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under a grant agreement.

Worley aims to complete the FEED phase at the end of this year, enabling Avantium to take a final investment decision for construction of the flagship plant at the end of 2020. The plant is scheduled to start up in 2023.

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