Axens starts up ethanol-to-ethylene plant in Japan

By Axens | December 06, 2022

In May 2022, Axens have demonstrated the successful start-up of the first ethanol-to-ethylene pilot plant based on Axens Atol technology with Sumitomo Chemical, which is going on the waste-to-polyolefins project in Japan.

At full rollout, this project will attain the production of waste-based polyolefin at industrial scale, representing a step forward towards a circular economy based on renewable carbon.

Building upon the historic 2021 achievement of the first waste-based polyolefin production at lab scale, the cooperation between both companies entered into a new phase with the construction and start-up of the first Atol plant. This success proves the reliability and robustness of Axens Atol technology, which will be capable of processing a wide variety of ethanol feedstocks derived from various origins.

Axens now counts five Atol references in the world, demonstrating the versatility of a technology which is at the crossroads of various value chains, from polymers and chemicals to biofuels.

“We are honored to work hand in hand with Sumitomo Chemical, in a cooperation that has the potential to be a game changer for the polyolefins industry. This project clearly addresses the waste plastics issue and Axens is committed to support our customers and partners to accelerate the deployment of circular economy the world,” said Frédéric Balligand, Axens renewables product line vice-president

Atol is a technology for production of polymer grade ethylene by dehydration of any kind of renewable ethanol from biomass or waste. The ethylene produced can be integrated in partial and/or total replacement of fossil hydrocarbon based ethylene in various downstream polymerization installations without requiring modifications. Atol ethylene can therefore be fed into existing or new units of, for instance, polyethylene (PE), ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol (polyethylene-terephthalate - PET), polyolefins, alpha-olefins production for linear alkylbenzene (LABs) and polyalphaolefins (PAOs), benzene alkylation for polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile-butadienestyrene (ABS), polyvinylchloride (PVC), etc.

Atol is the result of a partnership between Axens, TotalEnergies and IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN).