Factory Will Make Castor Derivatives

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Factory Will Make Castor Derivatives
Castor plants being grown in India. © Manju Mandavya

France-based Arkema announced on Monday a 50% increase in global capacity for its Oleris castor oil derivatives, which are used in synthetic lubricants and corrosion inhibition, among other applications. The new capacity will be included in a previously announced factory for plant-based chemicals, scheduled to open on Singapore’s Jurong Island in mid-2022.

The Oleris materials to be produced in Singapore include C7, C11 and C18 materials such as n-heptanoic acid, n-heptaldehyde, undecylenic acid and Esterol A. All biobased, they are made from castor oil feedstock through a proprietary process. N-heptanoic acid is a carboxylic acid used as an intermediate in lubricants, while n-heptaldehyde is a saturated, 100% linear aldehyde. Esterol A is a mixture of C18 fatty acid methyl esters, and undecylenic acid is a bifunctional fatty acid.

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Castor oil comes from the fatty oil of castor beans, which is extracted through pressing, followed by solvent extraction. India is the largest producer of castor seeds, accounting for more than 80 percent of global castor oil production.

“We are committed to driving sustainable castor bean farming and to expanding our global supply capability in concert with our customers,” Phillippe Marthet, general manager for Oleris Advanced Bio-Materials, said in a press release. “The expansion is completely consistent with our strategy to serve each region from within the region, and its timing is welcomed by the market, which shows a strong demand for biobased specialties.”

The new capacity will complement Arkema’s existing production in Marseille, France. “This represents a step change in global supply assurance,” the company said. In 2017, Arkema announced plans to invest €300 million (now U.S. $339 million) over the next five years in building a world-scale plant in Asia dedicated to producing its biosourced polyamide from castor oil. The company later announced that the plant would be on Jurong Island.