The Brasilian petrochemical producer Braskem has announced the production of the first internationally certified polyethylene made from sugarcane ethanol. The product containing 100% renewable raw materials will be certified by the US-based laboratory, Beta Analytic.
The green polymer developed by Braskem – a high-density polyethylene, one of the resins most widely used in flexible packagings – is the result of a research and development project that has already received some 5 million US-dollars in investment. Part of this amount was allocated to implementing a pilot unit for the production of ethane, which is the basis for the production of polyethylene, from renewable feedstock at the Braskem Technology and Innovation Center, which is already producing sufficient quantities for commercial development of the product. The project’s target customer will soon receive the green polyethylene and have the opportunity to confirm the performance of the product, which can meet all of the quality standards required to be competitive in the international market.
“The leadership of Braskem in the green polyethylene project confirms our commitment to innovation and sustainable development, and creates a very favorable outlook for the development of plastic products made from renewable raw materials, a field in which Brazil has natural competitive advantages”, said Braskem CEO José Carlos Grubisich.
Industrial production to start in 2009
The project is now in technical and economic specification process and the startup of green polyethylene production on an industrial scale is expected in late 2009. The new unit will have modern technology and competitive scale, and could reach annual production capacity of up to 200,000 tonnes. The location and industrial design of the unit will be determined within the next few months.
International markets targetted
The production of plastics from ethanol seeks to supply the main international markets that require products with superior performance and quality, in particular the automotive, food-packaging, cosmetics and personal-hygiene industries. Evaluations conducted in the initial phase of the project ascertained enormous potential for growth and appreciation in the green polymer market. Since both resins are equal in terms of properties and performance, the plastics manufacturing industry should benefit from this important development with no need to invest in new industrial equipment.
Braskem, a Brazilian petrochemical company, is the leader in thermoplastic resins in Latin America and is ranked among the three largest private industrial companies with Brazilian capital. With 14 industrial plants distributed throughout Brazil, the company produces over 6.0 million tons of thermoplastic resin and other petrochemical products annually.
The press release can be downloaded here (PDF document).
Source: Braskem, press release, 2007-06-21.