Avantium last Thursday inaugurated its plant-based MEG (mono-ethylene glycol) demonstration factory in Chemie Park Delfzijl, the Netherlands, bringing industry yet another solution to reduce the reliance on fossil resources. The opening ceremonies was hosted by Nienke Homan, regional minister of the province of Groningen, the Netherlands and Avantium CEO Tom van Aken. Avantium additionally announced the naming of this innovative technology to produce plant-based MEG: Ray Technology – A Bright Step to The Future.
The opening celebrates a significant milestone in commercializing the production of plant-based MEG, a vital ingredient in the production of polyesters widely used in textiles and packaging. Today, 99% of MEG is produced from fossil resources representing a value of approximately $25 billion. This market is expected to rapidly grow in the coming decades, providing a great opportunity for the introduction of plant-based MEG as part of the transition to a more renewable world. In addition to its sustainability advantages, the production of plant-based MEG with Ray Technology – Avantium claims – is cost competitive to fossil- based MEG.
The Ray Technology demonstration plant with an industrially relevant capacity of 10 tons annually will also produce plant-based MPG (mono-propylene glycol) which is used in a diverse set of industries such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food flavoring, and deicing.
“Avantium – Tom van Aken, CEO of the Dutch company, stated – is proud to be the first company in the world to have brought three technologies to demonstration stage – our YXY® Technology, Dawn TechnologyTM and now our Ray Technology. It truly demonstrates our ability to scale up and commercialize advanced technologies in the renewable polyester value chain.”
The end-to-end plant-based Ray Technology demonstration plant will cover all process steps in converting industrial sugars to glycols, allowing for the production of MEG and MPG samples that are representative of the final product from subsequent commercial-scale plants. Zanna McFerson, Managing Director of Avantium Renewable Chemistries, commented: “The opening of this demonstration plant signifies years of research and trials to achieve a significant step towards a commercial flagship plant, aimed for start-up in 2024. Commercial conversations are already ongoing with partners who see an economic opportunity with Ray Technology. We talk with feedstock providers who wish to diversify their markets, chemical companies who seek to enter a significant growth market and transition to a bio-based economy and consumer brands who are looking for plant-based solutions for their textiles and packaging.”