Avantium to set up Mekong pilot plant in the Netherlands

Avantium to set up Mekong pilot plant in the Netherlands

Dutch technology firm Avantium has decided to locate the new demonstration plant for its Mekong technology in Chemie Park Delfzijl, the Netherlands. The construction of the demonstration plant - with a capacity of around 10 tonnes of plant-based monoethylene glycol (MEG) - is on track, with the opening scheduled for the second half of 2019. This is an important step in commercializing the production of plant-based MEG, a fossil-free raw material for products such as plastic materials and textiles.

Avantium develops novel Renewable Chemistries technologies that use renewable carbon sources instead of fossil resources. One such technology is Mekong, which 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 US$25 billion. The Mekong technology aims to produce plant-based 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.

A key factor behind the decision to build the Mekong plant in Delfzijl is a EUR2 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund, facilitated by Partnership Northern Netherlands (Samenwerkingsverband NoordNederland). This grant aims to accelerate innovation in the quest for a low-carbon economy.

Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium, said: “I am thrilled at the technological progress of our Mekong technology. Our plant-based MEG has the potential to transform everyday packaging materials and commonly used textiles from fossil-based to plant-based products. Chemie Park Delfzijl is an excellent location for the ongoing development of our 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.”

The firm says it is also progressing well in developing partnership opportunities throughout the Mekong value chain in order to bring the technology to full-scale global commercialization. The Mekong demonstration plant will be located near Avantium’s Dawn Technology pilot biorefinery, which produces glucose and lignin from non-food biomass.

Avantium has three technologies now at or beyond pilot phase. The YXY plant-to-plastics technology of the Synvina business unit is the most advanced, with an extensive patent portfolio. YXY - which catalytically converts plant-based sugar (fructose) into a wide range of plant-based chemicals and plastics, such as polyethylene furanoate (PEF) - has witnessed significant progress over the previous two years.

Avantium is currently updating its commercialization strategy for YXY. Avantium’s Dawn Technology - converting non-food plant-based feedstock into industrial sugars and lignin - and Mekong entered the pilot plant stage in 2018, with commercialization activity already underway with partners.


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