The German specialty chemicals company aims to commercially produce ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) from bio-based ethylene by the end of the year. It will be the first form of bio-based EPDM rubber in the world.
EPDM is conventionally produced using the petroleum-based raw materials ethylene and propylene. Alternatively, LANXESS plans to use ethylene derived purely from the renewable resource sugar cane. This bio-based form of ethylene is produced by dehydrating ethanol from Brazilian sugar cane. The company Braskem S.A. will supply the bio-based ethylene via pipeline to LANXESS’ existing EPDM plant in Triunfo, Brazil.
“LANXESS’ ongoing search for alternatives to fossil fuels underlines its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions through sustainable production,” said Guenther Weymans, head of LANXESS’ Technical Rubber Products business unit. “We are very excited that our Brazilian plant will be the pioneer for bio-based EPDM.”
“LANXESS will contribute to broaden our portfolio of renewable chemicals’ clients. This agreement will bring the benefits of green ethylene to other important applications and markets. LANXESS has extensive automotive experience and an excellent reputation in this market, which makes it an ideal partner,” said Marcelo Nunes, Braskem’s Renewable Chemicals Director.
Triunfo currently produces 40,000 metric tons per year of regular EPDM rubber and it is expected that the first batches of the product Keltan Eco will amount to several hundred metric tons. The company’s other EPDM production sites are based in Geleen, The Netherlands, Marl, Germany, and Orange, Texas, U.S. All EPDM grades will be sold in the future under the brand name Keltan.
EPDM is used above all in the automotive industry but also in the plastics modification, cable and wire, construction and oil additives industries. Its properties include very low density, good resistance to heat, oxidation, chemicals and weathering as well as good electrical insulation properties. LANXESS will be showcasing Keltan Eco at its Rubber Day Germany, being held in Dusseldorf today, for the first time.
In addition, LANXESS is already seeking alternative sources to produce the premium synthetic rubber product butyl rubber, which is used predominantly in the tire industry. Together with Colorado-based Gevo, Inc, LANXESS is developing isobutene from renewable resources starting with corn. Isobutene is a key raw material needed in the manufacture of butyl rubber.
Last year, LANXESS started up a new on-site power plant at its Brazilian site in Porto Feliz, which produces iron oxide pigments. The innovative, highly efficient cogeneration plant for the production of electricity and steam is powered by bagasse, a fibrous component of sugar cane that is left over after sugar production. Thanks to the use of this renewable, environmentally friendly raw material, energy can be produced on a CO2-neutral basis for the site.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 15,800 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 46 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.