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Novozymes to supply tech for world’s first biomass to glycols biorefinery in Eastern China

Danish firm Novozymes and Luxembourg’s M&G Chemicals to collaborate on biomass-based plastics for biorefinery in Anhui province

The biorefinery plant will be a world first for biomass conversion developments

Danish firm Novozymes has announced it will supply enzyme technology to the world’s first biomass to glycols biorefinery to be constructed in China. The bio-refinery, which will be constructed by Luxembourg company M&G Chemicals, will be located in Anhui province, close to Fuyang in Eastern China.

The biorefinery will have capacity to process 1 million metric tons of biomass per year, approximately four times the capacity of the biomass conversion plant - the world’s first advanced biofuels facility - by Beta Renewables in Crescentino, Italy, which opened in October. Construction of the biorefinery is contingent upon successful financing, and the bio-refinery is slated to begin operations in 2015.

The biorefinery is expected to be realised through a joint venture between M&G Chemicals and Chinese company Guozhen Group, which will make available 1 million metric tons of wheat straw and corn stover per year.

The biorefinery will produce mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). MEG’s main application areas are in the production of synthetic polyester fibres and as one of two main components in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production. PET is one of the key building blocks for plastic packaging, including plastic bottles for water. The lignin by-product will feed a 45MW cogeneration power plant which will be constructed in conjunction with the bio-refinery.

The biorefinery will use Beta Renewables’ PROESA technology, and Novozymes will supply the enzyme technology for biomass conversion on an exclusive basis over a 15-year period.

Thomas Videbæk, executive vice president and head of business development in Novozymes, said: “M&G Chemicals is today taking a big step towards a bio-based society where biomass is used for products like fuel, chemicals and plastics. We are incredibly excited to enable M&G Chemicals’ vision of producing bio-plastics on a commercial scale and are looking forward to the long-term collaboration.”