Bioplastics Successful Start-up of Bioplastics Plant with Sulzer Technology

Editor: Wolfgang Ernhofer

Synbra Technology in the Netherlands had put a PLA (polylactic acid) plant into service. The plant can produce up to 5000 tons PLA per year and Synbra plans to further expand the capacity. Furthermore Sulzer decided to built its own 1000 tons a year PLA production plant to support customers in the development of new applications.

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PLA plant in Etten Leur/Netherlands with a capacity of 5000 tons per year (Picture: Sulzer)
PLA plant in Etten Leur/Netherlands with a capacity of 5000 tons per year (Picture: Sulzer)

Etten Leur/Netherlands – The plant was built by Sulzer Chemtech and is based on a cost-efficient polymerization process jointly developed with Purac, a company of the Dutch CSM group. The construction of the plant was completed in early 2011, followed by a successful commissioning and testing period.

Sulzer wants to go on with investing in bioplastics. Next step is the buildung of its own PLA-Plant with a capacity of 1000 tons per year for testing samples and to demonstrate the feasibility of Sulzer's PLA polymerization technology.

"Plastics made from renewable raw materials are becoming increasingly more important and have a high market potential," says Torsten Wintergerste, Director Polymer Technology at Sulzer Chemtech. "They constitute a sustainable alternative to conventional oil-based plastics."

The bioplastic PLA can be used in many applications, and is produced through the ring opening polymerization of lactide monomers. The lactide monomers are based on lactic acid produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch. In the near future cellulosic material from wood, grass or agricultural wastes shall substitute sugar as raw material.