Dutch biochemical company Avantium will locate the new demonstration plant for its Mekong technology in Chemie Park Delfzijl, the Netherlands. The construction of the demonstration plant – with a capacity of around 10 tons of plant-based mono- ethylene glycol (MEG) – is on track, with the opening scheduled for the second half of 2019. This is an important step in commercializing the production of plant-based MEG, a fossil-free raw material for products such as plastic materials and textiles.
Avantium develops novel renewable chemistries technologies that use renewable carbon sources instead of fossil resources. One such technology is Mekong, which delivers an environmentally sustainable plant-based alternative for MEG, producing it in a single-step process from industrial sugars. Today, more than 99% of MEG is produced from fossil-based raw materials, with a market value of about $25 billion. The Mekong technology aims to produce plant-based MEG that is chemically identical to fossil-based MEG and competitive in terms of cost and quality.
The construction of the Mekong demonstration plant is part of Avantium’s strategy to invest in developing and scaling up breakthrough Renewable Chemistries technologies. A key factor behind the decision to build the Mekong plant in Delfzijl is a €2 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund, facilitated by Partnership Northern Netherlands (Samenwerkingsverband Noord- Nederland). This grant aims to accelerate innovation in the quest for a low-carbon economy.
“I am thrilled at the technological progress of our Mekong technology”, Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium, said. “Our plant-based MEG has the potential to transform everyday packaging materials and commonly used textiles from fossil-based to plant-based products. Chemie Park Delfzijl is an excellent location for the ongoing development of our Mekong technology. The region is exceptional in supporting sustainable technologies and has the highly skilled and committed workforce so crucial to commercializing our Mekong technology.”
Zanna McFerson, Managing Director Renewable Chemistries at Avantium, added “Avantium is progressing well in developing partnership opportunities throughout the Mekong value chain in order to bring the technology to full-scale global commercialization. We are engaged with key partners on the technical validation of our Mekong technology and, in parallel, we are making significant progress in our commercialization efforts. We have collaborations with potential license partners around the world who wish to enter a significant growth market with a sustainable plant-based option.”
The Mekong demonstration plant will be located near Avantium’s Dawn Technology pilot biorefinery, which produces glucose and lignin from non-food biomass. Patrick Brouns, regional minister of the province of Groningen, is pleased that Avantium once again selected Chemie Park Delfzijl for the new plant. Brouns said: “Avantium brings innovation and renewable chemistry to the region, supporting highly skilled jobs. As formulated in our Chemport Europe ambition, we aim to develop Chemie Park Delfzijl into one of the most sustainable chemical clusters in Europe by 2030.”