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Sweet Sustainability: Bio-based PET Precursor Made From Sugar

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First production of bio-based, renewable monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar "has the potential to revolutionize the PET market.”

Two companies have combined their know-how and resources to achieve the first-ever demo-scale production of bio-based monoethylene glycol (MEG). MEG is a raw material for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) that is widely used in textile and packaging markets, especially beverage bottles.

Braskem, the largest petrochemical company in the Americas and a global producer of biopolymers, and Denmark-based Haldor Topsoe made the joint announcement November 23. The two companies have been involved in a technological partnership that began in 2017. Called MOSAIK, the technology development has been progressing according to schedule at the demonstration unit located in Lyngby, Denmark.

The demonstration unit was started up in 2019 with the primary goal to demonstrate key design features of the pioneering technology that transforms sugar into renewable MEG. Since then, the remaining process units of the plant have been built and put into operation, and the production process has been optimized.

MEG is predominantly made from fossil-based feedstocks, such as naphtha, gas, or coal. The global MEG market represents a value of approximately $25 billion.  

The technology will also co-produce, in a lower quantity, monopropylene glycol (MPG), which has a wide variety of applications ranging from unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), commonly used in construction materials, to cosmetic products.

The next phase will involve providing samples to strategic partners for testing and validation. The results of the demonstration plant operations and the validation of products will be essential for the decision to deploy the technology on a commercial scale.

“This technology has the potential to revolutionize the PET market.”

"This first-ever production of Mosaik-MEG is a major step forward in our project and underlines Braskem's commitment to the Circular Economy through renewable chemicals,” says Gustavo Sergi, executive officer of Renewable Chemicals and Specialties at Braskem. “This technology has the potential to revolutionize the PET market. That's why we are increasingly closer to start building this new value chain, so we can deliver the sustainable solution that society is looking for.”

"We are extremely pleased to have achieved the first production of bio-based MEG together with Braske,” says Kim Knudsen, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Haldor Topsoe. “Topsoe's strategic vision is to deliver technologies to reduce or even eliminate carbon emissions from the production of fuels and chemicals. Advancing technologies to produce bio-based chemicals and making them a commercially attractive option is an essential step on the way to a more sustainable future."

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