Amsterdam-headquartered renewable chemistry company Avantium N.V. has developed proprietary technology to produce the plant-based glycols plantMEG and plantMPG, both of which have now been produced at its demonstration plant in Delfzijl, the Netherlands.
The plant, which was commissioned in 2020, utilises a highly efficient one-step hydrogenolysis process to produce mono-ethylene glycol - MEG -from plant-based industrial sugars, as well as several tonnes of plant-based MPG as a co-product. The samples created via the process are completely representative of the final product as this will be produced by subsequent commercial-scale plants.
Both plantMEG and plantMPG are expected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to their fossil-based equivalents.
Key applications include polymerisation to PEF and PET polyesters and functional fluids used for de-icing and heat transfer. The company has already produced 100% plant-based PEF by polymerising Avantium’s monomers FDCA and plantMEG. Avantium's Ray plantMEG can also be used to produce bio-PET, containing 30% plantMEG to replace the fosil-based MEG used in conventional PET.
Mono-propylene glycol -MPG - is a chemical used in airport operations for the de-icing of airplanes, it is also used in unsaturated polyester resins, for example in modern windmill blades, as well as heat transfer fluids. Ray plantMPG is a wholly plant-based version of MPG.
Proving the functional performance of the plant-based glycols is an important step in the scale-up of the Ray Technology. As Zanna McFerson, managing director Renewable Chemistries at Avantium pointed out, a critical step in commercialising the Ray Technology is ensuring that the resulting products, Ray plantMEG and plantMPG, perform in customer-specific applications.
“We have now succeeded in demonstrating that our plant-based glycols are a great solution in a broad range of applications that can drive us towards a circular economy. This application validation paves the way for future licensees of the Ray Technology to tap into the growing demand for plant-based, renewable and recyclable materials,” she said.