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July 25, 2011
Volume 89, Number 30
p. 9

Biopolymers: Dow and Mitsui forge ahead on joint polyolefins project in Brazil

Alex Tullo

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Mitsui & Co. is forming a joint venture with Dow Chemical to build a biopolymers complex in Brazil that will be integrated all the way back to sugarcane cultivation.

Dow has been eyeing such a complex since 2007, when it revealed plans for a 350,000-metric-ton-per-year linear low-density polyethylene plant based on sugarcane. Brazilian sugar processor Crystalsev signed on as a partner but later dropped out.

Under the new agreement, Mitsui will make an initial investment of $200 million. The Japanese firm is buying a 50% stake in Santa Vitória Açúcar e Álcool, a Dow subsidiary that is growing 17,000 hectares of sugarcane in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Later this year, the pair will start building a 240 million-L ethanol plant that will start up in the second quarter of 2013.

Eventually, the companies plan to build a plant that will dehydrate the ethanol into ethylene and a polyolefins plant of undetermined size and product slate. Luis Cirihal, Dow’s director of renewable alternatives and business development for Latin America, says the partners may also expand into other biobased materials. “What we are pursuing today is the first step in many,” he says.

The Brazilian firm Braskem started up a 200,000-metric-ton ethanol-based polyethylene plant in Brazil last year. “What is fundamentally very different about this project is that it is an integrated project versus a nonintegrated project,” Cirihal says of Dow’s effort.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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