News about the bioplastics industry

Braskem inaugurates green ethylene plant in Triunfo (RS), becoming the global biopolymer leader

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Last september 24, in the Triunfo Petrochemical Complex, Braskem inaugurated, the world’s largest ethylene-from-ethanol plant, permitting the production of 200,000 tons of green polyethylene per year. As a result, the company will be providing the world with resin made from renewable sources, and taking another step towards its goal of becoming the world leader in sustainable chemistry with diversified and competitive raw material sources. The project, which absorbed investments of almost R$500 million, was based on the company’s own technology.
"The completion of this project is a landmark for Braskem, the realization of a dream shared with our clients, who can now acquire an even more sustainable product," declared the company’s CEO, Bernardo Gradin. Green plastics are exceptionally eco-friendly, since the process used to produce each ton of polyethylene from the primary raw material removes 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. "Braskem’s green plastics are made from CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere through sugarcane photosynthesis. It is also the most competitive of all plastics made from renewable sources. And this has been widely acknowledged by the market, which recorded demand three times greater than the plant’s capacity," added Gradin.
Since last year, Braskem has established several partnerships to supply green polyethylene to domestic and international clients who have adopted sustainable development as a pillar of their market strategy. This pioneering group of companies includes Tetra Pak, Toyota Tsusho, Shiseido, Natura, Acinplas, Johnson&Johnson, Procter&Gamble and Petropack. The most common applications of plastics from renewable sources are personal care and cleaning products, food packaging, toys and home appliances.
The deadline for the construction of the green ethylene plant was reduced to 16 months, under budget and with no accidents resulting in workers having to take time off. Due to its extreme importance, Braskem challenged its team to complete the project as rapidly as possible and with the highest safety standards. "The decision to bring the purchase of critical equipment forward, the efforts of the logistics area to speed up its delivery, and the perfect harmony between the technology, basic engineering, detailing and production teams played a crucial role in achieving this goal," explained Manoel Carnaúba, VP of the Basic Petrochemicals Unit.

Construction and assembly were handled by Construtora Norberto Odebrecht. Genpro, the same firm that worked on the Paulínia polypropylene plant, contributed its engineering expertise, OPI was responsible for international supply and Braskem supplied the technology and the basic and conceptual project, in addition to managing the alliance.
More than 2,200 workers were involved in the construction, more than 700 of whom living in Triunfo and the vicinity. Of this total, 174 had completed the Programa Acreditar (Believing Program), which had provided almost 250 Triunfo residents with eight months of training in electrics, structural assembly, plumbing, carpentry and welding.
The green polyethylene project will consume around 462 million liters of ethanol per year, which will initially come from the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Paraná. With the start-up of the green ethylene plant, Braskem will be consuming 570 million liters of ethanol in its Rio Grande do Sul units, almost as much as the entire state (600 million liters). Of this total, the ETBE plant will absorb 150 million liters.
Ethanol will be supplied though contracts with major Brazilian producers. Relations with these suppliers will be governed by a Code of Conduct that establishes sustainability criteria through compliance with environmental guidelines, especially those related to the São Paulo State Environmental Protocol, labor legislation and regulations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the ethanol will be transported by rail and waterway, with only a small portion arriving by road.
Pursuing its goal of becoming the world leader in sustainable chemistry, Braskem has stepped up its research into the development of other polymers, especially green polypropylene. The company has recently established a partnership with Laboratório Nacional de Biociências (LNBio), in Campinas, upstate São Paulo, for the installation of a laboratory to be used by the company’s biotechnology research team.
Braskem is also considering implementing a new green ethylene unit, due to market interest. "Investments in polymers have underlined Braskem’s confidence in the country’s growth and its potential for leading the development of products made from renewable sources, thanks to its competitive advantages," Gradin concluded.


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