Polylactic acid (PLA) producer NatureWorks has chosen engineering firm Jacobs to provide its services for NatureWorks’ new Ingeo ™ production plant in Southeast Asia. Thailand is currently NatureWorks’ preferred plant location for its second facility.
Under the terms of the contract, Jacobs is providing front-end engineering design including major equipment design. The companies did not mention capacity for the Asia plant but it was expected that it will be the same scale as NatureWorks’ 150 ktpa Ingeo ™ capacity in its flagship Blair, Nebraska, facility.
|NatureWorks Ingeo ™ PLA plant in Blair, Nebraska|
Jacobs expects to execute the multi-year project primarily from its Greenville, South Carolina, office. The project is expected to be completed within three years that will include detailed engineering design, procurement, construction, and plant start-up.
It is interesting that engineering firm Sulzer Chemtech was not on the scene of this project given that NatureWorks and Sulzer have partnered before on the development of a proprietary lactides processing equipment that NatureWorks now uses at its Blair facility.
NatureWorks is currently the biggest global PLA producer. It is estimated that annual PLA bioplastic production capacity is around 300 ktpa although output is much less than this capacity especially those coming from China.