A good news for Corbion as France-based energy company, Total, decided to join forces and formed a 50/50 JV with Corbion to produce and market PLA polymers. The JV will now handle the construction of a 75 ktpa PLA polymerization plant at Corbion’s site in Thailand, which already has a lactide (PLA monomer) production unit, which will also become part of the JV.
Corbion will supply the lactic acid necessary for the PLA and lactide production. The JV will be based in the Netherlands and will launch operations in the 1st quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.
The companies’ press release noted PLA’s average annual growth rate at 10-15% to 2025. PLA is a biobased, biodegradable polymer obtained by fermenting renewable resources (sugar or starch) to produce lactic acid. PLA is mainly used for food packaging, disposable tableware and textiles, as well as in numerous other industries such as oil and gas, electronics, automotive and 3D printing.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new PLA polymerization plant in Rayong took place last week marking the official start of its construction. Upon completion in 2018, the site will be able to produce the JV’s portfolio of neat resins under the trademark Luminy, which will include various PLA ranges from standard PLA to innovative, high-heat resistant PLA.
The new 75 ktpa PLA plant will be constructed using Corbion’s and Sulzer’s proprietary polymerization technology, and key equipment will be supplied by Sulzer Chemtech Ltd (Switzerland). Corbion also plans to expand its existing lactide plant at the site by 25 ktpa to serve its current and future lactide customers.
Targeted start-up date for the PLA plant and the lactide expansion is in the second half of 2018.