Despite significant headwinds from low oil prices, Corbion says that it is on track to construct a 75,000 metric tons per year polylactic acid (PLA) plant in Thailand that is scheduled to open in 2018.
“We have now obtained the necessary technical and financial validation for such a plant,” comments Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Corbion The pre-engineering for the plant is now complete. The plant will be able to produce a complete portfolio of PLA, ranging from standard PLA to high-heat resistant PLA.
Additionally, Corbion will expand its existing lactide plant in Thailand by 25,000 tons per year. With this expansion the company will be able to serve both its own PLA plant and current and future lactide customers. The lactide expansion will also enable the production of a wider range of lactides than is currently possible.
The projected capital cost for the PLA plant is approximately $71.1 million.
Corbion did not indicate in its announcement what feedstock will be used in the plant. Currently, first-generation feedstocks such as industrial cane sugar, sugar beet, corn and cassava are used for producing lactic acid.
Corbion has successfully made PLA from second-generation feedstocks that are not suitable for human consumption, and include plant-based materials such as bagasse, corn stover, wheat straw and wood chips. Corbion has invited users of PLA to join a consortium to accelerate the market introduction of PLA resin made from alternative feedstocks.