The Netherlands: Renewable Chemistry Avantium Builds Bio-MEG Demonstration Plant
Avantium has started construction of a new demonstration plant that is intended to help advance the production of bio-based mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) made directly from renewable sugars.
Amsterdam/The Netherlands — As MEG is a component for making everyday consumer goods, such as PET and PEF plastics and polyester textiles, the development of an environmentally friendly plant-based alternative has strong potential. Today, more than 99 % of MEG is produced from fossil resources and the market demand for this product is expected to grow from 28 million to 50 million tons in the next 20 years.
According to Tom van Aken, Chief Executive Officer of Avantium, their novel single-step process could fulfil this demand in an environmentally sustainable manner. The new plant will use the company’s Mekong technology to convert renewable sugars into bio-based MEG. The plant — part of a previously disclosed € 15 to 20 million (approx. $ 17.4 to 23.2 million) investment in advanced technologies — is scheduled to be operational in 2019, employing up to 20 people.
Alongside this investment decision, the European Innovation Council has selected the Mekong technology as part of its € 146 million (approx. $ 179 million) investment in top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with bright ideas and the ambition to scale up internationally. The Dutch company has been selected among the 79 projects following face-to-face interviews with a jury of innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
The objectives of the demonstration plant are to scale up the novel bio-MEG technology, validate the technical and economic feasibility of the process, and to collect data to execute an environmental life-cycle analysis (LCA) quantifying the sustainability benefits of the Avantium technology.
In parallel to this new development, the company is nearing completion of a biorefinery pilot plant for its Zambezi technology that produces high-purity glucose and lignin from non-food biomass. This biorefinery is located in Delfzijl, the Netherlands.