Another step in the bioeconomy for Evonik, the German company based in Essen, which is one of the world’s leading specialty chemicals companies, with sales of 13.6 billion euros and an operating result (adjusted EBITDA) of 2.6 billion in 2012. In early 2013, Evonik Industries began operating a pilot plant for ω-amino lauric acid (ALS) in Slovenska Lupca, Slovakia. The effort represents Evonik’s next step forward in the production of sustainable high-performance plastics.
The biobased ω-amino-lauric acid is an alternative to petroleum-based laurin lactam (LL). ALS replaces the monomer LL in the manufacture of sustainable high-performance plastics and yields an identical compound polyamide 12 (PA 12). The pilot plant is the result of intensive research and advances the process development effort to an industrial scale.
Development of the process was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The biotechnological process relies on renewable resources and is unique the world over. Palm oil, which Evonik has already been using as a base for various other chemical products, is the starting material. Over the long run, the entirely new process has the potential to complement the butadiene-based production of PA12.
With these investments in Slovakia, Evonik has paved the way for sustainable growth in Eastern Europe, which is one of the world’s most dynamic growth markets. The German company has been active here for many years, operating two of the three biotechnology sites where its expertise in feed additives and pharmaceutical solutions is applied in practice.
With a second conventional, petroleum-based polyamide 12 plant in Singapore in the planning stage, Evonik is in a strong position to be a global market and technology leader in PA12 production technology. “”In the long term, this new, alternative raw material makes us less dependent on limited fossil resources and provides our back-integrated production a second pillar to stand on” says Gregor Hetzke, head of Evonik’s Performance Polymers Business Unit.