Braskem Expands Green Ethylene Output

24.02.2021 - Brazilian petchems and plastic group Braskem is spending $61 million to expand its production capacity for green ethylene, the sugarcane ethanol-derived main feedstock for renewable polyethylene, at its plant in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. With the expansion, expected to be completed in Q4 2022, capacity will rise from 200,000 t/y currently to 260,000 t/y.

The increase will enable higher output of biopolymers to meet rising demand for sustainable products and consolidate the Brazilian group’s leadership in the biopolymers market, said Marco Jansen, head of global biopolymers. Braskem currently exports its renewable resins to more than 30 countries and has more than 250 customers, including Allbirds, DUO UK, Grupo Boticário, Join The Pipe, Johnson & Johnson, Natura & Co, Nissin, Shiseido and Tetra Pak.

Braskem said its renewable resins maintain the same quality and versatility of a fossil-based product, but during the plant growth stage have the advantage of capturing up to 3.09 t of CO2 per tonne of polyethylenene produced and up to 2.1 tonne of CO2 per tonne of renewable EVA. Over the ten years it has produced biopolymers from sugar cane, the group calculates that it has averted emission of 5.54 million t of CO2.

The petchems giant’s production of renewable polymers from sugarcane started in 2007 at the Technology and Innovation Center in its Triunfo Petrochemical Complex, which it says is the sector's largest and most modern research complex in Latin America. Braskem invested $290 million in building the plant and in 2010 unveiled the world's first industrial scale production of polyethylene produced from renewable resources, which it markets under the “I'm green” brand name.

Expanding  biopolymer capability, Braskem said, will take it 185,000 t of CO2 closer to its  goal of becoming a carbon neutral producer by 2050 .  "Carbon neutralization is one of the most viable paths to minimize the impacts of climate change. Hence, increasing our production of plastic derived from sugarcane will bring significant gains both for us and our clients around the world in terms of sustainability," said Jansen.

Biopolymer export hubs strengthened

Last month, Braskem moved its European biopolymer storage facility from Antwerp, Belgium, to its Rotterdam Biopolymer Hub in the Netherlands, where its European headquarters is located. The facility is the strategic turnaround point for its biopolymers sold on the European and Asian markets.

A new US global export hub facility opened this year at Charleston, South Carolina, will provide packaging, warehousing and export shipping services to support Braskem’s six production facilities in the country. The hub has the capacity to support export shipments of up to 204,000 t of polypropylene and specialty polymers annually to clients worldwide.

Braskem is partnered with the Port of Charleston and third party logistics providers to construct and lease the facility as well as provide services to the Brazilian producer under a five-year agreement. The group said it will also continue to leverage its existing international export capabilities in Houston, Texas, USA.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist