Ludwigshafen, Germany -- Oleochemical company Oleon has started up a new plant for producing bio-propylene glycol (PG) from glycerine in Ertvelde, Belgium.
BASF said the plant is the first of its type worldwide, "exploiting a highly sustainable production process developed and licensed by BASF and jointly realised with Oleon."
Historically, PG has been produced by hydrolysis from propylene oxide, which is obtained from crude oil. The starting material employed at Ertvelde is glycerine, primarily obtained from fats and oils generated as by-products of oleochemical production.
As an additional benefit, the glycerine-based process used at Ertvelde requires fewer steps than hydrolysis, increasing the efficiency of Oleon's bio PG production.
BASF researched the glycerine-based production technology, and also supplies the catalysts that are key enablers for the advanced bio PG production process.
Michael Baier, vice president, Process Catalysts & Technologies with BASF's Catalysts division, said: "Moving forward, using glycerine as a starting substance, bio-PG production is possible in a far more sustainable way. This is a perfect example of how BASF creates chemistry for a sustainable future."
PG is a versatile alcohol used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, as well as in solvents and plasticisers.
Chris Depreeuw, managing director of Oleon in Ertvelde, said: "Everybody is talking about bio and green chemistry; Oleon is already implementing innovative technology. Thanks to the strong collaboration with BASF, we were able to realise a new process to produce propylene glycol in Ertvelde from a renewable source."