Thailand Picked for Biobased Acids Plant


Thailand Picked for Biobased Acids Plant
View from an aerial drone of trucks loaded with sugar cane in a parking zone outside a sugar cane factory. © 99Art

French biochemical company Afyren and Thai sugar producer Mitr Phol Group will partner to establish a biorefinery in Thailand that produces biobased carboxylic acids used in lubricants and other applications, the companies announced on Thursday.

Production is scheduled to begin by 2025, with a more specific timetable expected after engineering studies scheduled for the second half of this year. The plant is projected to have annual production capacity of 28,000 metric tons, representing annualized sales of about €60 million (U.S. $65 million) at full capacity.

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The companies signed a letter agreement for an industrial partnership based on Afyren’s technology. Afyren will own 70% and Mitr Phol 30% of the joint venture. Founded in 2012, Afyren makes carboxylic acids using sugar beet co-products through fermentation processes.

Afryen said the Thailand joint venture project is targeting the Asian market, which accounts for 25% of global demand for carboxylic acids. The company said that by building in the heart of Southeast Asia, it will be able to support local, regional and international customers from as close a distance as possible in the strategic Asian market. 

The plant will be in the immediate vicinity of Mitr Phol’s operations, close to Bangkok. Mitr Phol will provide a serviced land plot and also ensure the long-terms supply of the sugarcane co-products that will be used to produce Afyren’s organic acids.

“By partnering with Mitr Phol, Afyren is securing long-term access to a sustainable raw material from the local sugarcane industry,” Afyren CEO Nicolas Sordet said in a press release.

The Thailand plant accord is expected to be finalized mid-2023, the companies said, subject to agreement by the parties on the final terms of the partnership.

Mitr Phol operates 16 sugar mills, 11 biomass power plants and four ethanol plants, drawing from more than 143,000 farms across Thailand, Laos, China, Australia and Indonesia. The company is also a large biomass producer in Asia.

Afyren manufactures three types of acids used as building blocks for polyol ester lubricants and functional fluids — valeric, isovaleric and caproic. Among their main applications are compressor oils, metalworking fluids, refrigeration lubricants and immersion cooling fluids for electric vehicle engines.

In September last year Afyren announced completion of the start-up phase of its Afyren Neoxy joint venture factory near Saint-Avold, France. The plant produces biobased carboxylic acids, derived from sugar beet co-products, for lubricants and other applications. The first plant is expected to gradually increase its production of carboxylic acids to 16,000 metric tons by 2024.

The Afyren Neoxy biorefinery is a joint venture, 51% owned by Afyren and 49% by the SPI fund managed by Bpifrance.