Investing in the future with sustainable ethanol

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As demand for biofuels increases globally CropEnergies is planning to build a plant for the production of renewable ethyl acetate from sustainable ethanol.
The Mannheim-based company in Germany has decided that the location for the new facility will be at the Zeitz Chemical and Industrial Park in Elsteraue.
The supervisory board of CropEnergies has given the green light to the investment into what will be the first production plant in the new bio-based chemicals business.
The facility will use the production technology by Johnson Matthey, London, UK, which minimises carbon dioxide emissions and produces ethyl acetate widely regarded as having the highest product quality on the market.
The engineering partner for the construction of the plant will be De Smet Engineers and Contractors, MontSaint-Guibert, Belgium.
Dr Stephan Meeder, the company’s CEO, said he was delighted with this latest development in cleaner energy. He said: “I am very happy that we are now moving on to the next phase of building our new production site and to deliver on the promise we made with our strategy for the transformation of the global firm into a supplier of innovative and sustainable products.
“This is indeed one of the challenges we face today – to make the products we use more sustainable. “One of the ways to do this is to defossilise the raw materials for those products.”
The multi-million euro investment in the new production facility will be paid from its existing cash position. New markets The German company is currently engaged in the detailed and construction engineering phase of the development.
Ground-breaking is to take place early in 2024 and the commissioning is scheduled for the following summer.
The announcement marks the next step in CropEnergies’s diversification process into new markets in addition to the mobility sector. Last year, the company also announced the participation in several startups to achieve this goal.
These business ventures include the production of renewable ethanol from wastes and residues, the production of solar power as well as other bioenergy ventures.
CropEnergies’ renewable ethyl acetate is a sustainable alternative to fossil products and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Meeder added that the project aims to be profitable within two to three years following commissioning.
Meeder continued: “We have set ourselves a target of reaching a return on capital of at least 15% for the project.”
Its parent company Südzucker AG’s supervisory board has also approved this project. Meeder said this demonstrated the full support for CropEnergies’ strategy, which was fully aligned with the “bio-based chemicals” angle of the Südzucker Group Strategy 2026 PLUS.
The new production plant, which will be the first of its kind in Europe, will produce 50,000 tonnes of renewable ethyl acetate per year from sustainable ethanol using renewable energy for the process. Ethyl acetate is widely used in the production of flexible packaging and coatings, paints and adhesives, as well as in food, beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications.
Currently, ethyl acetate is produced mainly from fossil resources. In addition to significantly lowering the fossil carbon footprint of products made from it, CropEnergies’ renewable ethyl acetate produced in Germany also offers customers the opportunity to source locally in Europe, providing greater security of supply.
Discussions with future customers show that there is great interest in this new, sustainable product. The new production site in the Zeitz region will also contribute to additional added value in the Burgenlandkreis region and it will also create approximately 50 jobs for highly-skilled employees. In addition to ethyl acetate, the plant will also generate renewable hydrogen as a co-product.
Together with biogenic CO2 from the CropEnergies fermentation process, this can be the basis for further conversion of renewable energy into PtX (power-to-X) downstream routes, to produce eFuels for example.
For more information: visit: cropenenergies.com

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