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Issue 05/2015

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Report A “Made in

Report A “Made in Europe” biorefinery Matrìca, a 50:50 joint venture between Novamont and Versalis (Eni), is the result of the reconversion of a petrochemical site in Porto Torres (Sardinia) into an integrated biorefinery that today, using innovative and low-impact processes, produces a range of chemical products (biochemicals, building blocks for bioplastics, bases for lubricants, bioadditives for rubbers and plasticizers for polymers) from agricultural raw materials and vegetable scraps. The new site is one of the most innovative integrated biorefineries of its kind. Using vegetable European renewable resources as feedstock, the site is currently iproducing Azelaic Acid, a C9 dicarboxylic acid, and Pelargonic Acid, a C9 monocarboxylic acid, at industrial scale. As well, other minor streams, like a C5-C9 blend. The production of this new site aims at the world market of biochemicals. This sector is forecast to exhibit growth of 17 % a year, with production estimated at up to 8.1 million tons in 2015 (Source: Lux Research Study, September 2010). The project, which started in 2012, will ultimately represent a total investment of approximately 180 million EUR, including the construction of various plants, of which the first three just recently have come on on-stream. The production site covers a total area of about 27 hectares. Matrìca produces various products, including monomers for bioplastics, additives for lubricants, plasticizers for PVC and ingredients for cosmetics, based on Novamont’s research and technology, all obtained from renewable sources. Plasticizers have been and still are a key raw material for different polymers. Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI), the public/private partnership between the European Union and a consortium of bio-based industries (BIC, Bio-based Industries Consortium), recently allocated a 17 million EUR grant to the project FIRST2RUN, coordinated by Novamont, with Matrìca as the key partner. The FIRST2RUN project is aimed at demonstrating the technical, economic and environmental sustainability of today’s highly innovative, integrated biorefineries. The project involves the extraction of vegetable oils from low input oilseed cultures, such as thistle, and their conversion into bio-monomers (primarily pelargonic and azelaic acids) and esters for the formulation of bioproducts such as biolubricants, cosmetics, plasticisers and bio-plastics. By-products resulting from these manufacturing processes will be further enhanced to obtain animal feed, other value-added chemicals and energy in order to increase the sustainability of the value chain. Standardisation, certification and dissemination will be integral aspects of the project, as well as a study into the social impact of products deriving from renewable resources. Matrìca is merely the first example of industrial development to have successfully been brought to such a positive result. More projects are meant to follow, based on various innovative technologies, such as the production of 1.4 BDO derived directly from sugar, through a fermentation process. The project shows that the added value behind the use of renewable raw materials in terms of investments, job creation and industrial reconversion is not based on the unique use of agricultural nonfood crops for energy purposes, but is especially generated in the area of intermediates, chemicals and specialties. This is no news, though it has already been experienced with the traditional petrochemical industry. By: Stefano Facco New Business Development Director Novamont SpA Novara, Italy 34 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/15] Vol. 10

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