With a Chinese market of epichlorohydrin (ECH) expected to grow by 8% per year, Solvay and its Thai affiliate, Vinythai have decided in 2012 to invest in a new production plant in Taixing, Jiangsu Province, China, based on Solvay’s proprietary Epicerol® technology.
This new plant, with an estimate Capex of 200 million USD will have an initial capacity of 100,000 tons per year and will be the sister plant of the first commercial size plant for Epicerol® started –up by Vinythai in Thaïland early 2012. The first plant has proven the process at industrial scale to be eco-efficient and having a 60% lower carbon footprint than its petrochemicals based equivalent. And this is damned important for China to minimize its carbon footprint whilst developing its chemicals manufacturing infrastructure. Solvay‘s proprietary process is also dividing the volume of chlorinated by-products by eight compared to the conventional propylene based process.
The Chinese Epichlorohydrin market is forecasted to account for 35% of the global demand in 2016. Epichlorohydrin is a key intermediate for the production of the bio-based version of :
- Epoxy resins
- Corrosion protection coatings
which have numerous applications in the electronics, automotive, aerospace or wind turbine industries.
The plant will use as input material the natural glycerin obtained as by-product from the production of biodiesel from soya oil. It is expected to be commissioned during the second half of 2014.
The new capacity make Vinythai (58.8% owned by Solvay) the second largest epichlorohydrin producer in Asia, next to Shandong Haili (China) but overtaking Dow Chemicals (USA) which has been operating a glycerine-to-epichlorohydrin (GTE) facility in Shanghai (China) since 2010. Dow‘s plant, with an annual capacity of 150,000 metric tons per year, was the first to use Dow’s innovative and proprietary GTE technology. Dow uses part of the bio sourced epichlorohydrin to operate a 100,000 tons per annum plant of liquid epoxy resins (LER) on the same facility.
This year will therefore be a milestone on the way for Asia to be self – sufficient for this key intermediate and to set the scene in terms of bio-epoxy resin production (Ref post “The future of epoxy resin” dated Jan 8 2014 on this blog).