World’s largest butanediol facility to use Johnson Matthey technology

8 June 2023 | Muriel Cozier

‘Our technology also enables our customers to make significant energy savings and operational improvements.’

Johnson Matthey is providing its butanediol (BDO) technology for a new plant being built in China, said to be the largest facility of its kind in the world.

Built by Fujian Zhongjing Petrochemical Group, the 600,000-tonne-per-annum facility will play an important role in helping China phase out the use of single use plastics. BDO is used to produce biodegradable plastics for compostable packaging. The project comprises three separate plants that are being built in phases.

Summarising its technology, Johnson Matthey says: ‘The DAVY™ butanediol process can produce in a single reaction train, varying ratios of three products; 1,4 butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma butyrolactone (GBL).

‘This flexible process uses maleic anhydride, which can be obtained by the oxidation of butane or benzene, as the feedstock. This allows our licensees to rapidly respond to market conditions to manufacture high quality products for the polymers and solvents industries. The use of low-cost raw materials provides a more economical process.’

Chairman of Zhongjing Petrochemical Group, Weng Shengjin, said: ‘We will further increase investment to achieve the goals of energy conservation, carbon reduction and emissions reduction.’

President, Greater China at Johnson Matthey, Dr Mark Su added: ‘Our technology also enables our customers to make significant energy savings and operational improvements.’

The news follows the meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for Plastics, which was held in Paris, France, last week. The Committee is seeking to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. The meeting was attended by more than 700 member states and 900 observers from NGOs.

As the meeting closed, Inger Andersen Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme said that: ‘Plastic has been the default option for too long. It is time to redesign products to use less plastic, particularly unnecessary and problematic plastics, to redesign product packaging and shipping to use less plastic, to redesign systems and products for reuse and recyclability.’

Developments at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for Plastics are prompting the Chinese Government to introduce new regulations limiting plastic waste and promotion of alternatives.’

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