Roquette starts up isosorbide plant in France

Roquette , the world's No. 5 starch producer, has launched a new industrial unit for the production of isosorbide at its site in Lestrem, Pas-de-Calais, France. A global player in the processing of plant-based raw materials, the Roquette Group confirms its ambition to become a preferred supplier in the performance plastics and speciality chemistry markets.

The new production unit, which has a capacity of 20,000 tonnes and state-of-the-art technology, will be able to offer a range of Polysorb isosorbide in a high purity responding to all quality requirements of its customers, says the firm.

Based on its know-how, expertise and skills acquired over decades, Roquette says it has developed a unique patented process based on sorbitol, a product for which the group is world leader. The different steps of purification help obtain isosorbide grades with over 99.5% isosorbide content.

Since 2002, the year of its first pilot unit launch, Roquette says it has always been convinced of the potential of isosorbide in performance materials. After its first industrial unit in 2007, the group decided to invest in a new production facility to meet future market demands. This new workshop, built on the Roquette site at Lestrem, is now fully operational and benefits from the entire infrastructure of the group's largest industrial site.

Polysorb isosorbide is used in plastics such as thermoplastics (polyesters, polycarbonates, thermoplastic polyurethanes) and curable resins (polyurethanes, epoxy resins, unsaturated resins, coatings). For example, the poly(ethylene-co-isosorbide) terephthalate (PEIT) exhibits a higher resistance to temperature while offering excellent properties of transparency.

It is also used as a substitute for bisphenol A in polycarbonates, while improving the properties of this polymer, such as optical properties, resistance to ultra-violet (UV) light and better resistance to chemicals and high temperatures.

Polysorb ID plasticiser is obtained from isosorbide and plant-based fatty acids. This 100% biosourced plasticiser is said to offer key improvements in performance for PVC resins and can be used as an alternative for standard plasticisers like phthalates. It is recommended for numerous applications such as floor coverings for hospitals and schools, school furnishings and interior decoration.

Pascal Leroy, Vice-President Market Unit Plant-based Solutions, highlights: “Isosorbide and its derivatives illustrate the engagement of Roquette in the domain of plant-based chemistry. These new and innovative products complete the offer to industrial markets (paper, cardboard, detergents, materials, insulation) in which Roquette already holds a leading position. These solutions provide technological, environmental and health benefits to these markets, while being competitive.”

Family-owned Roquette, processes plant-based raw materials based on maize, wheat, potatoes, peas and micro-algae.


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