Thursday, December 20, 2012

First domestic bio-PVA production line comes on stream

On Oct. 23, 2012, China's first bio-PVA program with capacity of 50,000t/a owned by Guangxi Guangwei Chemical Co., Ltd. (Guangwei Chemical) was officially put into production, according to CCM’s December issue of Biomaterials China News.

This program represents the capacity of 50,000t/a vinyl ethylene from bio-alcohol, 100,000t/a vinyl acetate (VAC) and 50,000t/a PVA.
The difference between this production line and domestic major PVA production lines is that Guangwei Chemical uses sugarcane or other biomasses as raw material while other producers use coal or nature gas. Guangwei Chemical is located in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region where biomass is abundant, and it can make use of cheap biomass to produce alcohol through fermentation, then generating PVA from bio-alcohol.
While the mainstream production process in China is producing PVA from calcium carbide or acetylene.

This production line is designed by Professor Zhang Minhua and his R&D team from Tianjin University. According to Mr. Zhang, the change of feedstock can decrease PVA producers' dependence on coal and expand the distribution scope of PVA plants.
Now, PVA is mainly produced through ethylene method and acetylene method. Acetylene can be made from coal, while ethylene is mainly produced from natural gas. Restricted by resources and technology, China’s PVA is mainly produced from coal-made acetylene, since China is abundant in coal but short of petroleum and Chinese enterprises have not mastered the technology of ethylene method. So most PVA producers construct PVA plants in the coal-rich areas to cut production cost. For example, the parent company of Guangwei Chemical—Anhui Wanwei Updated High-tech Material Industry Co., Ltd. (Wanwei Updated High-tech)—has constructed a new plant in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region because of local rich coal resources.
However, if PVA can be produced from biomass, the location of PVA plants will not be limited, since China's biomass resources are abundant, cheap and widely distributed. For example, China can generate more than 700 million tonnes of straw resources annually. Therefore, more regions are suitable for constructing PVA plants, such as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a province short of coal but rich in biomass.
Besides renewable raw material, safety and energy-saving are also great advantages of biological method. Without producing calcium carbide (calcium carbide production is restricted by many countries and regions because it is energy-intensive), biological method can greatly reduce energy consumption and cut the production cost. Meanwhile, this method is safer. In 2009, an explosion accident occurred in Guangwei Chemical, forcing the company to draw a plan to develop biological PVA. Before the explosion accident, the company is a coal-based PVA producer. Mr. Zhang also introduced that there are other advantages of bio-PVA technology in addition to the above-mentioned ones, such as few by-products, high purity, low investment and small carbon dioxide emission.

Though the completion of domestic first bio-PVA production line is an encouraging event, the company may have to face the problem of marketing, and whether this production line can bring great benefit is also uncertain, since domestic PVA industry has already experienced serious overcapacity. For example, Wanwei Updated High-tech is domestic largest PVA producer with the capacity of 250,000t/a (including Guangwei Chemical's 50,000t/a). According to its Q3 2012 earnings report, the company suffered a net loss of USD12.4 million in Q3 2012, decreasing by about 431.68% compared with that in the same period of 2011. 
For Guangwei Chemical, low cost and its special geographic location may be its strong advantages, as Guangxi adjoins the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).

Source: Biomaterials China News 1212

Main content of Biomaterials China News 1212:
Great demand attracts kinds of ethylene glycol producers
Overview of bio-plastics in China during 2012
First domestic bio-PVA production line comes on stream
Hunan Tuopu receives subsidy USD4.96 million
Judian Environmental's completely biodegradable tableware program comes online
Baling Petrochemical finishes design of 10,000t/a ε-caprolactone production engineering
Notice on National Temporary Purchase of Corn as Reserves in 2012 published
Xing Cypress Group launches construction of 20,000t/a LDA program
Great change occurs in China's PLA import and export trade in Oct. 2012
China's import volume of fresh cassava soars in Oct. 2012
China's import volume of castor oil and its derivatives increases 31.2% in Oct. 2012
Shuangxin Group accelerating construction of its PVA base
Huali Environmental selected into provincial leading biological enterprises developing plan
Global green package market value to reach USD178 billion in 2018
Kingfa performs flat in Q3 2012
NIMTE develops new thermosetting biological resin
… …

Biomaterials China News, with 12 to 14 topics in one issue, published on the 8th every month, will bring you the latest information on the latest market dynamics, company dynamics, new biomaterials products, new biomaterials technology development, new legislations and policies and raw material supply dynamics that are shaping the market.

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