Ashland, Cargill Pick Biobased Glycol Technology


Ashland Inc. and Cargill, as part of the joint venture the companies are forming to produce biobased chemicals, on Monday announced they have licensed a new technology from Davy Process Technology Ltd. for use in converting glycerin to propylene glycol.

Well be taking their technology, combining it with proprietary technology that Cargill and Ashland have, and producing propylene glycol with higher yields and fewer by-products than other options that weve looked at, Cargill spokesman Bill Brady told Lube Report. Davy has been doing things like this for about 25 years, and they have licensed lots of plants around the world.

In May, Ashland and Cargill announced plans to team up for an $80 million to $100 million joint venture to develop and produce biobased chemicals, with plans for a European plant that will produce propylene glycol from glycerin, a by-product of biodiesel production. The companies believe the biobased plant will be capable of producing propylene glycol for less than it costs to produce via hydrocarbon feedstock.

The partners expect the European plant to produce in excess of 65,000 metric tons per year of propylene glycol, with start-up expected early in 2009.

The Ashland and Cargill venture will be the first to use this efficient production method in converting glycerin to propylene glycol, said David Tomlinson, president of Davy Process Technology. The license is for a vapor-phase hydrogenation technology. Hydrogenation is the chemical adding of hydrogen to a material.

Davy Process Technology is headquartered in London, and has its technology center in Stockton-on-Tees. The company has a global business in petrochemicals technology development and technology licensing.

Dave Jones, director of bioproducts at Ashland, said testing also shows that the process produces a high-purity propylene glycol that can be used in virtually any application using propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in resins, cosmetics, paints, detergents and antifreeze. It can also be used for production of polyglycols for use in hydraulic and brake systems to provide lubricity and protection against freezing, and to help reduce swelling of rubber parts.

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