Thai biochemical plant converts glycerin into epichlorohydrin

By Erin Voegele | March 14, 2012

Solvay, an international chemical group, recently announced that its Thai affiliate Vinythai successfully commissioned a biobased chemical plant. The $157 million facility, based in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, utilizes Solvay’s Epicerol technology to convert glycerin from biodiesel production into epichlorohydrin.

Epichlorohydrin is a feedstock for the production of epoxy resins used in corrosion protection coatings and in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. According to information released by Solvay, the new plant has a production capacity of 100,000 metric tons per year. 

“An environmental sustainable technology based on a renewable resource as raw material is now available in the fast growing Asia-Pacific Region,” said Vincent de Cuyper, Group general manager of the chemicals sector and member of the Executive Committee of Solvay. “This world-class plant starts serving its customers, creating a win-win situation for Vinythai's customers and shareholders. With these dynamic market conditions in the whole region, Solvay is pleased to pursue its epichlorohydrin project in Taixing, China, for which it recently received the Environmental Impact Assessment approval.

According to Solvay, the Epicerol technology is currently protected by 1,000 patent titles.The company also noted that the process has received several environmental awards in France, the U.K. and Canada. The first plant to feature this technology was located in Tavaux, France. That facility began operations in 2007.

Solvay and its affiliates are active in other areas of the biorefining industry as well. According to information published by the company, it is also developing a biobased chemical facility in Brazil. That plant, developed by Solvay Indupa, is expected to include an integrated ethylene production plant that takes in sugarcane ethanol as feedstock. The resulting ethylene can be used to produce Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

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