Bioplastics producer Novamont has entered a joint venture with Eni in which the two Italian companies will build a €500m biorefinery in Porto Torres, Sardinia. The facility, dubbed the “Porto Torres Green Centre”, will be located at the petrochemical complex owned by Eni offshoots Polimeri Europa and Syndial. As well as providing the site, Eni will have responsibility for infrastructure and skilled labour.
Under the joint venture agreement, Novamont technologies and renewable raw materials will be used to build new production facilities for bio monomers, bio lubricants, bio fillers and bio intermediates/additives for elastomers and bioplastics.
The partners said in a statement there will be three stages to the construction work:
- Stage 1 – facilities to produce bio monomers for bioplastics, bio lubricants and bio intermediates/additives for elastomers;
- Stage 2 – facilities to produce bio fillers and bio intermediates/additives for elastomers;
- Stage 3 – expansion of the stage 1 facilities to have greater capacity and building of a bioplastics plant.
The statement did not reveal production capacities or a construction timetable for the plant.
Novamont currently produces its Mater-Bi family of bioplastics, based on corn starch and other renewable materials, at a factory in Terni, Italy. Novamont’s overall production capacity is 80,000 tpa, but the company has not published its current production rate. Novamont has, for a number of years, expressed its desire to pursue a biorefinery project and become an integrated producer of bioplastics and their feedstocks.
The statement said: “Novamont has chosen to face this challenge with Polimeri Europa because it believes that the union of a strong commitment to innovation and research of new materials from renewable sources and a long and recognized experience in the international chemical industry can successfully create an Italian case-study of global significance.”
For its part, Eni is aiming to boost its position in petrochemicals with a move into “green chemistry”. “Through this strategic alliance between Polimeri Europa and Novamont, Eni believes that it can become a world leader in the bioplastics sector, a 100% Italian leader, which may bring numerous advantages for Italy, not least in economic and social terms,” said the statement. The partners said that a major strategic role of the project will be the growing of local crops for use as raw material.
Source: European Plastics News, 2011-06-01.