12 November 2019

NextChem awarded contract to build new bio-lubricants plant

Maire Tecnimont has already invested approximately €50 million in the last 5 years in more than 70 innovation projects around the circular economy

Italy-based chemical producer So.G.I.S. has commissioned NextChem to construct a plant that will be used to transform residual fats into oleic acid, an intermediate product for the production of non-fossil biodegradable, biocompatible and safe lubricants.

wImage.phpNextChem, a member of the Maire Tecnimont Group operating in green chemistry and the field of energy transition technologies, was launched last year as a vehicle for the Group’s Green Acceleration project.

The NextChem – So.G.I.S. agreement concerns the supply of engineering and procurement services by NextChem for the construction of a So.G.I.S. production unit in the Municipality of Sospiro, in the province of Cremona, Italy, for the production of oleic acid from residual fats through a process of wet fractionation of fatty acids. The production line, with a capacity of 60 tons / day, will be incorporated into the production processes of So.G.I.S..

The oleic acid is suitable for processing into bio-lubricants, a rapidly expanding sector with growing demand.

Bio-lubricants, in addition to the reduction of carbon footprint thanks to their non-fossil origin, have different physiochemical properties from traditional lubricants, which enable their great market coverage. The global bio-lubricant market is a robust one, expected to reach USD 3.6 billion by 2025, up from USD 2.4 Billion in 2017, recording an annual growth rate of 6.9%. This success is due to the wide range of application opportunities in the air and naval transport sectors, and the increasing impact of an ever more stringent environmental legislation.

“We are satisfied with the path taken together with NextChem and happy to start this collaboration today, which is being added to other projects already in progress, in the field of green technologies” declares the General Director of So.G.I.S. Riccardo Alquati. “This is a step forward for us towards sustainability with a view to improving the performance of our products”.

“NextChem is investing in technology and research with the aim of implementing bio-chemicals and bio-fuels production processes on an industrial scale starting from renewable raw materials” said Pierroberto Folgiero, Chief Executive Officer Maire Tecnimont Group and CEO of NextChem. “At the same time, we are also engaged in the areas of Energy Efficiency and Emission Reduction (de-carbonization) and of Circular Economy. This agreement with So.G.I.S. is a brilliant example of sustainable innovation in a downstream sector where demand is great while supply is limited”.

Maire Tecnimont has already invested approximately €50 million in the last 5 years in more than 70 innovation projects, with the aim of building a technology portfolio to best address the new requirements of the ongoing revolution in the energy and chemical industries. Such a portfolio is composed by a series of initiatives aimed at:

GREENING THE BROWN: mitigating the environmental impacts of the technologies used for hydrocarbons transformation. The first objective is to maximize the technologies to mitigate the environmental impact of the processes to produce fuels and derivatives through, for instance, desulfurization projects and CO2-free processes.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY: implementing the mechanical recycling of plastics and promoting chemical recycling. Currently, in economic terms, 95% of the value of plastic packaging – some $80-120 billion a year – is lost, while up to 8 million tons of plastic are released into the oceans each year. In addition to promoting chemical recycling, Maire Tecnimont is already actively involved in mechanical recycling, through its first plant for the production of regenerated polymers in Lombardy.

GREEN – GREEN: identifying additives or oil substitutes for the production of fuels and plastics from renewable sources and industrializing the production of bioplastics. The Group has already developed a series of initiatives to produce biofuels and bioplastics from renewable sources, such as agricultural waste. A rapidly growing market which is expected to increase production by 50% in just 5 years (from 4 million tons produced in 2016, to 6 million tons expected by 2021). Thanks to its high know-how in the construction of plants, Maire Tecnimont already has the ability to boost the process of industrialization of bioplastics, moving from laboratory innovations, to pilot plants, up to industrial scale plants.

Source: Bioplastics MAGAZINE, 2019-11-04.

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