LONDON (ICIS)--Rhodia plans to build a bio-based solvents plant at its Paulinia site in Sao Paulo, southeast Brazil, and is also studying a project in Asia, a company executive said on Tuesday.
The company, which is part of Belgium-based Solvay, currently produces the solvents, branded Augeo, at its Santo Andre site, also in Sao Paulo. The solvents are based on glycerine, a bi-product of biodiesel production, and can be used as an alternative to petrochemical-based solvents such as glycol ethers and acetates.
"The next facility will probably be built in Paulinia," said Vincent Kamel, president of Rhodia's Coatis oxygenated solvents and phenol-based products business.
An investment decision is expected in the second half of this year and the plant could become operational at the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014, he added.
The capacity and investment cost of the Paulinia project were not disclosed, although Kamel said the project would be larger than the existing Augeo plant in Santo Andre.
Rhodia intends to locate its third Augeo plant in Asia. The company is looking at potential locations in China, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia, Kamel said. The location should be close to biodiesel production, to source the glycerine feedstock, or close to a large customer base, he noted.
Rhodia is also debottlenecking its production of oxygenated solvents in line with market demand, said Kamel. "We are progressively debottlenecking our plants," he said, without providing details.
Latin American demand for oxygenated solvents is growing at about 3%/year, while global demand, driven by China, is growing at about 4%/year, according to Rhodia.
The company has the capacity to produce a total of more than 300,000 tonnes/year of solvents from plants in Paulinia and Santo Andre, plus some marginal capacity in Europe and Asia, said Kamel.
Rhodia will also market output from Saudi International Petrochemical's (Sipchem) ethyl acetate (etac) plant in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, which is on schedule to begin production at the end of the first quarter next year, he added.
Rhodia provided the technology and will market most of the output from the 100,000 tonne/year Sipchem plant
Copyright 2012 Reed Business Information Limited. All Rights Reserved.
(Originally published May 15, 2012, in Chemical News & Intelligence.)