On line as of September 3, 2010, Braskem's new ethylene-from-ethanol plant in the Triunfo Complex of southern Brazil boasts 200,000 ton/year capacity of green polyethylene, and according to the company, is made possible by technology investments of US$278 million and a well-developed Brazilian sugarcane ethanol industry.
The new plant will consume around 462 million liters of ethanol per year, which will come from the Brazilian states to the south and southeast. The ethanol suppliers are included in a Code of Conduct setting sustainability criteria through compliance with environmental guidelines such as the São Paulo State Environmental Protocol, the "UN Global Compact," Brazilian labor law, and regulations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
This project was announced at the K 2007 fair and details will be presented in a press conference at K 2010 in Düsseldorf, Germany on October 28, 2010. Construction was completed in 16 months, within budget, and with no accidents requiring that workers take time off. The polymerization that converts the ethylene into polyethylene is carried out in existing Braskem plants within the Triunfo Complex.
The finished product, according to Braskem, has the same properties and processing characteristics as traditional PE, so it can be processed without any machinery adjustments. During the past year, Braskem formed partnerships to supply the green PE to companies with sustainable development as a component of their market strategy. Those companies include Tetra Pak, Toyota Tsusho, Shiseido, Natura, Acinplas, Johnson&Johnson, Procter&Gamble, and Petropack.
Braskem says the new plant establishes it as a global leader in biopolymers, and further, uses a process that captures 2.5 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere for each ton of PE produced. And the company plans for more. It has stepped up research into development of other green polymers, especially polypropylene, and based on the market's interest so far, is considering setting up a new green ethylene unit. —[email protected]