Biodegradable polymers based on renewable feedstock have started to replace conventional polymers produced from fossil fuel. Sulzer now offers a complete plant solution for the PLA production process, which was jointly developed with Purac. Lactide monomer is polymerized in a continuous, fully integrated process using Sulzer's proprietary SMR technology and equipment.
This state-of-the-art PLA production technology has many advantages compared to standard technologies:
- Highly efficient polymerization process using static mixer technology
- Fast product transitions between different PLA grades due to short residence time
- Operational flexibility to produce different PLA grades with different molecular weights
- Compact-sized plants
- Straight-forward scalability to bigger plant sizes of up to 100 kt/a
- Low maintenance costs due to installation of mainly static equipment
Sulzer’s own 1 000 t/a PLA production unit will come on-stream early 2012. This unit will produce various customer-specific grades and provide clients with the option to obtain larger quantities of sample material for their own in-house evaluation and product development. The main applications for PLA are packaging, electrical housings, fibers and materials resistant to temperatures up to 200°C.