Having successfully demonstrated that its technology works, thyssenkrupp has announced it has now won asecond order for a PLA plant, again, in China.
thyssenkrupp built its first commercial plant, based on its proprietary, patented PLAneo technology for China’s biggest food and beverage company, COFCO. It went into operation in Changchun at the end of 2018.
This second plant, based on this same technology, will be built in South China and have an annual polylactide - PLA - production capacity of 30,000 tons. To be designed by thyssenkrupp, who will also supply the key components, it is scheduled to go into operation in fall 2021.
The PLA from the new plant is destined for the manufacture of eco-friendly packaging, fibres, textiles and engineering plastics.
“Thanks to its versatility, PLA in particular has great potential to bring sustainable change not only in the packaging industry but also in other sectors such as the food, consumer goods and automotive industries,” said Sami Pelkonen, CEO of the Electrolysis & Polymers Technologies business unit.
“At the same time this second order will strengthen our position on the Asian market, which currently represents around half of the world’s bioplastic production capacities.”
Polylactide is a biodegradable plastic which, thanks to its physical and mechanical properties, can replace many conventional materials such as PET, polypropylene and polystyrene. The feedstock for the PLAneo process is lactic acid, which is obtained from renewable raw materials such as sugar, starch or cellulose.
The technology converts lactic acid into PLA in a particularly efficient way that conserves resources. It is suitable for large-scale plants with capacities of up to 100,000 tons per year, noted Udo Mühlbauer, product manager at thyssenkrupp.
“In addition, we have reduced energy consumption in the process through the use of an energy recovery system, further reducing costs and making production even more sustainable,” he said.