Thyssenkrupp to build PLA plant in China


German industrial firm Thyssenkrupp has developed its own manufacturing process for polylactide (PLA) bioplastic and now the company is building the first commercial plant based on its patented PLAneo technology in Changchun, China. The customer is COFCO Corporation, a supplier of agri-products offering a wide range of foodstuffs and services. Once completed, the new plant will produce around 10,000 tonnes/year of PLA. Commissioning is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.

PLA is a 100% bio-based and compostable plastic which is suitable among other things for processing into packaging materials, films and engineering plastics and can therefore replace conventional oil-based polymers in many areas. The raw material for PLA production is lactic acid, which is produced from renewable resources such as sugar, starch or cellulose. Polylactide is thus both bio-based and bio-degradable.

In developing the PLAneo technology, Uhde Inventa-Fischer, a subsidiary of Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, profited from expertise gained from the construction of more than 400 polymerisation plants and extensive experience in the scale-up of new technologies. PLAneo technology converts lactic acid into PLA in a particularly efficient and resource-friendly way, says the company. Another advantage is its transferability to large-scale plants with capacities of up to 300 tonnes/day (100,000 tonnes/year). The process allows the production of tailored PLA types with different degrees of crystallinity and viscosity for a multitude of applications.

Sami Pelkonen, CEO of the Electrolysis & Polymers Technologies business unit of Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions: “With our technology we want to help establish bioplastics on the market. It reduces the use of fossil raw materials and significantly lowers CO2 emissions. With it we enable our customers to produce high-quality bioplastics with custom properties – and at a price that is increasingly competitive with conventional petrochemical plastics.”

Thyssenkrupp is providing basic and detailed engineering, key plant components and supervision of erection and commissioning for the new PLA plant.


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