Sulzer Chemtech’s proprietary separation technology for lactide production has been selected for Zhejiang Depei New Material Co.’s latest plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China. The processing equipment will enable the company to produce large volumes of high-quality lactide from plant biomass. The plant will leverage an innovative hybrid technology to reach high purity levels, resulting in outstanding thermal and mechanical properties.
The project in Ningbo of Zhejiang Depei New Material, a subsidiary of Zhejiang Youcheng New Materials, is part of the company’s strategy to support the large-scale adoption of sustainable plastics and fibers made from renewable resources, such as biomass from agricultural processes. In particular, the new plant will produce plant-based L-lactide. This is an essential building block to obtain recyclable and compostable polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic, which can be used in a wide range of applications, from packaging to textiles and medical equipment.
Sulzer’s separation technology will be at the heart of the processing facility and used to purify L-lactide dimers. The company has been selected based on its extensive expertise in sugar-to-PLA processes as well as its comprehensive portfolio of state-of-the-art separation products. Sulzer’s mass transfer components are included in most industrial-scale PLA plants worldwide.
The unit in Ningbo will leverage a unique hybrid process that combines distillation and crystallization to deliver materials of high purity grades while avoiding any thermal degradation. As a result, Zhejiang Depei New Material will be able to deliver high-quality lactide for the production of transparent, heat-resistant crystalline PLA for a broad range of industries.
General Manager at Zhejiang Depei New Material, comments: “We look forward to collaborating with Sulzer to develop this new, state-of-the-art processing facility. As the Chinese market for recyclable bioplastics is skyrocketing, the advanced solutions from Sulzer will provide us a competitive edge to address this high demand with high-quality biomaterials.”