Issue Date: July 23, 2007
Dow to Make Polyethylene From Sugar in Brazil
Dow Chemical and Brazilian sugar and ethanol maker Crystalsev plan to build a commercial-scale facility in Brazil to make "cost-competitive," biomass-based, linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) for local markets. Under a memorandum of understanding the two firms have just signed, the 50-50 joint venture includes plans to build a facility by 2011, which will use ethanol derived from sugarcane to produce 300,000 metric tons per year of ethylene. That ethylene will be the raw material from which the partners expect to produce 350,000 tons of LLDPE, used widely to make films and food packaging. The ethanol-derived ethylene is an alternative to the high-cost and fluctuating prices of naphtha and natural gas liquids, the petroleum products traditionally used to produce ethylene, says James R. Fitterling, Dow business group president for basic plastics. Dow is not alone in developing renewable feedstocks for plastics in Brazil. In May, petrochemical maker Braskem said it planned to make up to 200,000 metric tons of high-density polyethylene from sugar in a plant it expects to start up in late 2009.
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