The construction of the demonstration plant – with a capacity of around 10 tons of plant-based monoethylene glycol (bio-MEG) – is on track, with the opening scheduled for the second half of 2019. This is an important step in commercializing the production of bio-MEG, a fossil-free raw material for products such as plastic materials and textiles.
According to Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium, Chemie Park Delfzijl is an excellent location for the ongoing development of the Mekong technology. ‘The region is exceptional in supporting sustainable technologies and has the highly skilled and committed workforce so crucial to commercializing our Mekong technology.’
A key factor behind the decision to build the Mekong plant in Delfzijl is also a €2 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), facilitated by Partnership Northern Netherlands (Samenwerkingsverband NoordNederland). This grant aims to accelerate innovation in the quest for a low-carbon economy.
Mekong technology delivers an environmentally sustainable plant-based alternative for MEG, producing it in a single-step process from industrial sugars. Today, more than 99% of MEG is produced from fossil-based raw materials, with a market value of about $25 billion. The Mekong technology aims to produce bio-MEG that is chemically identical to fossil-based MEG and competitive in terms of cost and quality.
The construction of the Mekong demonstration plant is part of Avantium’s strategy to invest in developing and scaling up breakthrough Renewable Chemistries technologies. ‘Our plant-based MEG has the potential to transform everyday packaging materials and commonly used textiles from fossil-based to plant-based products’, says Van Aken.
According to Zanna McFerson, Managing Director Renewable Chemistries, Avantium already has collaborations with potential license partners around the world who wish to enter a significant growth market with a sustainable plant-based option.
Patrick Brouns, regional minister of the province of Groningen, is pleased that Avantium once again selected Chemie Park Delfzijl for the new plant: ‘Avantium brings innovation and renewable chemistry to the region, supporting highly skilled jobs. As formulated in our Chemport Europe ambition, we aim to develop Chemie Park Delfzijl into one of the most sustainable chemical clusters in Europe by 2030.’
Today (27 March 2019), Avantium published weak annual figures for 2018. The company was confronted with a number of setbacks, such as the departure of BASF from the joint venture Synvina and the loss of a € 5.9 million grant for the construction of the ‘Dawn’ pilot plant in Delfzijl. As a result, the net loss amounted to € 68.4 million.