To reduce reliance on petroleum-based plastics, thyssenkrupp has developed a manufacturing process for the bioplastic polylactide (PLA). The world’s first commercial plant based on the patented PLAneo® technology recently started production in Changchun, China. It is operated by the Jilin COFCO Biomaterial Corporation, a subsidiary of COFCO, China’s largest food and beverage group. The new plant produces all standard PLA types, among other things for the production of eco-friendly packaging, fibers, textiles and engineering plastics.
Sami Pelkonen, CEO of the Electrolysis & Polymers Technologies business unit of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions: “The bioplastics market will continue to grow in the coming years, not least due to the increasing environmental awareness of industry, governments and consumers. With our PLAneo® technology we want to do our bit to make the plastics sector more sustainable and resource-friendly. With it we enable our customers to produce high-quality bioplastics with a wide range of properties – at a price that is competitive with conventional plastics.”
Polyactide (PLA) is a 100% bio-based and compostable plastic which thanks to its physical and mechanical properties can replace conventional oil-based polymers in many areas. The starting material for PLA production is lactic acid, which is recovered from renewable resources such as sugar, starch or cellulose.
PLAneo® technology converts lactic acid into PLA in a particularly efficient and resource-friendly way. Another advantage is its transferability to large-scale plants with capacities of up to 100,000 tons per year. In developing the technology, thyssenkrupp’s subsidiary Uhde Inventa-Fischer profited from decades of expertise gained from the construction of more than 400 polymerization plants and extensive experience in the scale-up of new technologies. For the new plant in Changchun thyssenkrupp provided the engineering, key plant components and supervision of construction and commissioning.