A Chinese company specialised in the development and industrialisation of biobased products has picked Sulzer Chemtech to supply the processing equipment needed for its new plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China. The project, developed by Zhejiang Youcheng New Material at its subsidiary Zhejiang Depei New Material Co.is part of the company’s strategy to support the large-scale adoption of renewably-sourced sustainable plastics and fibres based on, for example, biomass derived from agricultural processes. The new facility will produce plant-based L-lactide, the monomer from which polylactic acid (PLA) is made. based on Sulzer Chemtech’s proprietary separation technology for lactide production. PLA is a bioplastic used applications ranging from packaging to textiles and even medical equipment.
The new equipment will enable the Chinese company to produce large volumes of high-quality lactide from plant biomass. The plant will feature an innovative hybrid technology combining distillation and crystallisation, to produce high-purity materials grades without any thermal degradation occurring.
“As the Chinese market for recyclable bioplastics is skyrocketing, the advanced solutions from Sulzer will provide us a competitive edge to address this high demand with high-quality biomaterials,” said Zhejiang Depei New Material’s general manager, enabling the facility to supply high-quality lactide for the production of transparent, heat-resistant crystalline PLA for a broad range of industries.