13 Juni 2011

Polimeri Europa (Eni group) and Novamont together for Matrìca, a bio-based chemical complex: a new age for the chemical industry

The new Joint Italian Venture has as its mission the designing, building and managing of chemical plants using vegetable oil feedstock for the production of biochemicals (bio-plastics, bio-lubricants and bio-additives for elastomers)

Polimeri Europa – the biggest Italian chemical company, a subsidiary of Eni – and Novamont – a global market leader in biodegradable plastics – announced 13 June plans to build an innovative bio-based chemical complex in Porto Torres (Sardinia, Italy). With a total investment of 500 million Euro ($700 million), the project consists of seven new plants – an integrated production chain from vegetable oil to bio plastics – to be completed within the next six years, and a research center devoted to bio-chemistry that will be operative in the next quarter.

Matrìca, the fifty-fifty Joint Venture set up by Polimeri Europa and Novamont will execute the bio-based chemical complex, where the basic engineering of the first phase has already been completed. Eni also plans to invest an additional 250 million Euro in a biomass power station to provide the electric power.

JV’s target market is the global bio-based chemical sector. According to recent analyst research this sector will grow at 17.7% per year reaching 8.1 million tons in 2015. Novamont brings to the venture technologies and research and innovation skills in the sector of bioplastics and bio-based products, whilst Polimeri Europa boosts this highly innovative project with its engineering and commercial capabilities in carrying out and managing big industrial complexes.

Polimeri Europa will convert the Porto Torres production from traditional fossil into bio-based productions: all the traditional chemical plants at the site with the exception of nitrilic rubbers NBR will be shut down, creating an available skilled workforce and facilities for the new project. The bio-based chemical complex will be one of the most important in the sector at a global level – due to its innovative integrated production chain, its size and the massive overall installed capacity of 350 kt/a of bio-products.

Daniele Ferrari CEO of Polimeri Europa said: “We aim to grow a new key sector of the Italian economy, creating a virtuous cycle based on technological innovation and sustainable bio-products with low environmental impact and high integration with the local territory. We are confident that this is an industrial model that will be exported. “

By joining forces with Novamont in the fast growing renewable bio-materials business, Polimeri Europa stabilizes and strengthens its traditional chemical business and at the same time transfers research and innovation from the bio field into fossil chemistry.

Catia Bastioli, CEO of Novamont said: “Novamont’s vision is to achieve full implementation of a “Biorefinery model closely linked to the Territory” through cooperation with the agricultural, industrial, institutional and academic sectors. Our intention is to deliver an exemplary model in the global market place, inspiring an innovative approach in the use of renewable raw materials with maximum attention given to the environmental impact on the local territory”.

Project details
Using raw materials of vegetable origin, the new bio-based chemical plants will produce innovative products, specifically chemical intermediates for bio-plastics, bio-lubrifcants and bio-additives for elastomers. The Bio-Materials will not only be fully biodegradable but also produced almost entirely from renewable raw materials.

With high-level integration in the local territory, the project foresees the upstream cultivation and production of vegetable oil which is the raw material of the Bio-Monomers plant in Sardinia. The location of the new project represents an advantage in terms of the agricultural vocation of Sardinian land and the large amount of land available.

The seven new plants will be built in three stages:

  • Phase A – The first stage of the project sees the construction of a Bio-Monomers plant (the so called bio-refinery) and a Bio-Lubricants plant.
  • Phase B – In the second stage a plant will be erected that produces Bio-Extensor oils and Bio-Fillers for the rubber industry. These plants will use intermediates produced by the Bio-Monomers plant.
  • Phase C – The third stage of the project will be a scale-up of the first phase with new larger lines of Bio-Monomers and Bio-Lubricants and a downstream plant for the production of Bio-Plastics that will be used for a variety of market applications in the fields of waste collection, hygiene, agriculture, catering and packaging.

The continuous development and innovation of products and processes is ensured by the activities of the new research center and will be carried out jointly between the two partners’ research centers and in cooperation with national and international high-level research institutions.

Furthermore, the synergy between the new bio-materials produced by JV and the traditional chemical products manufactured by Polimeri Europa, both in terms of commercial and production synergies will guarantee the success of the project. Polimeri Europa and Novamont have developed relevant synergies between bio-materials and elastomers specifically for the tyre market and will bring to market a range of bio elastomer grades characterized by higher performances and lower environmental impact.

Source: Novamont S.p.A., press release, 2011-06-13.

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