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Avantium selects Chemie Park Delfzijl as demo plant site for third tech programme

In the Netherlands, renewable chemical process developer Avantium BV has announced that it has again selected Chemie Park Delfzijl as the location for the new demonstration plant for its Mekong technology. The construction of the demonstration plant - with a capacity of around 10 tonnes of plant-based mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) - is on track, with the opening scheduled for the second half of 2019.

Biobased PEF bottles (photo courtesy Avantium).

Biobased polyethylene furanoate (PEF) bottles (photo courtesy Avantium).

Avantium develops novel renewable chemistry technologies that use renewable carbon sources instead of fossil resources. One such technology is Mekong, which delivers an environmentally sustainable plant-based alternative for mono-ethylene glycol (MEG), producing it in a single-step process from industrial sugars.

Today, more than 99 percent of global MEG is produced from fossil-based raw materials, with a market value of about US$25 billion. The Mekong technology aims to produce plant-based MEG that is chemically identical to fossil-based MEG and competitive in terms of cost and quality.

ERDF critical

The construction of the Mekong demonstration plant is part of Avantium’s strategy to invest in developing and scaling up breakthrough Renewable Chemistries technologies. A key factor behind the decision to build the Mekong plant in Delfzijl is a EUR 2 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), facilitated by Partnership Northern Netherlands (Samenwerkingsverband Noord- Nederland). This grant aims to accelerate innovation in the quest for a low-carbon economy.

I am thrilled at the technological progress of our Mekong technology. Our plant-based MEG has the potential to transform everyday packaging materials and commonly used textiles from fossil-based to plant-based products. Chemie Park Delfzijl is an excellent location for the ongoing development of our Mekong technology. The region is exceptional in supporting sustainable technologies and has the highly skilled and committed workforce so crucial to commercializing our Mekong technology, said Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium.

The Mekong demonstration plant will be located near Avantium’s “Dawn Technology” pilot biorefinery, which produces glucose and lignin from non-food biomass. Patrick Brouns, regional minister of the province of Groningen, is pleased that Avantium once again selected Chemie Park Delfzijl for the new plant.

Avantium brings innovation and renewable chemistry to the region, supporting highly skilled jobs. As formulated in our Chemport Europe ambition, we aim to develop Chemie Park Delfzijl into one of the most sustainable chemical clusters in Europe by 2030, said Brouns.

Three bio-based technologies

Avantium has three technologies that it says are now at or beyond the pilot phase. The YXY plant-to-plastics technology of the Synvina business unit is the most advanced, with an extensive patent portfolio. YXY – which catalytically converts plant-based sugar (fructose) into a wide range of plant-based chemicals and plastics, such as polyethylene furanoate (PEF) – has witnessed significant progress over the previous two years and the company is updating its commercialization strategy for YXY.

Avantium’s “Dawn Technology” – converting non-food plant-based feedstock into industrial sugars and lignin – and “Mekong” entered the pilot plant stage in 2018, with commercialization activity already underway with partners.

Avantium is progressing well in developing partnership opportunities throughout the Mekong value chain in order to bring the technology to full-scale global commercialization. We are engaged with key partners on the technical validation of our Mekong technology and, in parallel, we are making significant progress in our commercialization efforts. We have collaborations with potential license partners around the world who wish to enter a significant growth market with a sustainable plant-based option, said Zanna McFerson, Managing Director Renewable Chemistries at Avantium.

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