Biobased chemicals

Ashland and Cargill are to create a new joint venture devoted solely to the development and production of biobased chemicals from renewable sources.


The venture’s first product will be propylene glycol (PG). Using both licensed and proprietary technology, the joint venture will produce high-grade propylene glycol from glycerin, an abundant co-product of biodiesel production.


The joint venture expects to provide global manufacturing and marketing of biobased PG, starting with a 65,000 metric ton-per-year plant at a yet-to-be-finalised location in Europe.


According to Ashland market consultants, annual global production for propylene glycol totals more than 1.4 million metric tons, and research shows that global demand growing at a 3-percent to 7-percent rate.


Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in a variety of resins, lubricants, cosmetics, paints, detergents and antifreeze. Today, propylene glycol is produced from propylene oxide, a petroleum-based intermediate.


With a 50-50 ownership structure, the companies anticipate an initial capital investment in the range of $80 million to $100 million.


Details on the name, leadership and development plans are expected to be announced later in 2007.