Polimeri Europa and Novamont announced plans for a new chemical plant that will utilize vegetable oil feedstock for the production of bioplastics, biolubricants, and bioadditives for elastomers. The bio-based chemical complex will be located on the island of Sardinia in Porto Torres, with a total estimated investment cost of half a billion euros ($700 million). The project consists of seven new plants spanning an integrated production chain from vegetable oil to bioplastics. The full project is scheduled to be completed within the next six years, but a new research center devoted to bio-chemistry will start up in the third quarter.
Called Matrìca, which means mother in the Gallurese dialect of Sardinia, the 50:50 joint venture set up by Polimeri Europa and Novamont, has already completed basic engineering of the first phase, which will feature the bio-based chemical complex. Italian energy company Eni also plans to invest an additional Euro 250 million in a biomass power station to provide electricity. The overall installed capacity of so-called bio-products will be 350,000 tonnes/yr.
Matrìca will target the global biobased chemical sector, which Polimeri Europa and Novamont say is forecast to grow at 17.7% per year and 8.1 million tons by 2015. Polimeri Europa will also convert existing Porto Torres production from traditional fossil into bio-based productions. All the traditional chemical plants at the site except for nitrilic rubbers will be shut down, with workers transferred to the new project.
The seven new plants will be built in three stages:
- Phase A - Construction of Bio-Monomers and Bio-Lubricants plants
- Phase B - Construction of Bio-Extensor oils and Bio-Fillers plants, which will use intermediates from the Bio-Monomers operation
- Phase C - Scale-up of larger lines of Bio-Monomers and Bio-Lubricants and a downstream Bio-Plastics plant
In January, Novamont announced that it would open a U.S. operation in Danbury, CT called Novamont North America Inc. In May, U.S.-based sustainable plastics supplier Cereplast announced that it would establish a 100,000 tons/yr bioplastics manufacturing plant in Italy near Assisi.