Work has started on the world’s first FDCA Flagship Plant in the Netherlands.

Avantium’s bioplastics facility at Delfzijl will produce plant-based furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a key building block for many chemicals and plastics such as polyethylene furanoate (PEF), a fully recyclable plastic.

It will be the world’s first facility to produce FDCA on a commercial scale, with a capacity of five kilotonnes per year. The project will be the commercial proof for future larger-scale developments.

The new facility is located near Avantium’s demonstration plant for plantMEG™ (monoethylene glycol) and its pilot biorefinery, producing glucose and lignin from non-food biomass. The area is a prime location for green chemistry in the Netherlands and aims to achieve a fully sustainable chemical industry by 2050.

Avantium‘s latest initiative seeks to help shift the chemicals industry away from fossil resources and towards sustainable feedstocks, creating 50 highly skilled jobs in the process.

Company CEO Tom van Aken said: “Avantium is proud to be the first company in the world that is constructing a commercial facility to produce FDCA, the key building block of PEF.

“I strongly believe that PEF has the potential to become a major polymer to be used across many applications and markets worldwide, helping us on the path to a circular economy. We are pleased with the support of our partners for our FDCA Flagship Plant. Everyone can see how our plans for a commercial FDCA facility are becoming a reality.”

Construction should be completed by the end of 2023, enabling the commercial launch of PEF from 2024 onwards.

The bioplastics facility is being built in partnership with Worley, following on from their previous concept development and front-end engineering design collaboration.

Worley has acquired a shareholding in Avantium in return for a €10 million equity investment with a risk-sharing mechanism over the EPC phase of the FDCA plant.

They have also signed a technology cooperation agreement with Avantium and will deliver EPC services to develop the facility.

Tom van Aken continued: “Avantium believes that the confidence in the project demonstrated by Worley and their substantial experience in scaling-up to industrial plants adds strength and credibility to Avantium’s technology and licensing proposition.

Mark Brantley, Worley Group President EMEA and APAC, added: “We’ve worked with Avantium over the last years in the scale-up to commercial scale for its flagship facility and this marks an important milestone in the project as we evolve to the next phase.”

The FDCA Flagship Plant is supported with a PEFerence Horizon 2020 grant awarded by Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 744409.