Orlen Południe plant makes propylene glycol production more sustainable with BASF technology

Project executed in partnership with Air Liquide Engineering & Construction

New plant supports Orlen Południe’s objective to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2050

Orlen Południe, a leading player in biofuels in Poland, has recently concluded the first year of operation of its Bio PG plant, converting glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel production, into renewable propylene glycol (Bio PG). Bio PG obtained from glycerin is bio-based and a highly demanded product used to produce polyester resins, polyurethanes, paints and de-icing solutions, solvents for the food industry, and is used as an ingredient in deodorant sticks and toothpaste. Compared to fossil-based propylene glycol, Bio PG reduces the CO2 footprint by at least 60 percent whilst offering the same product quality.

Orlen Group to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2050

The Bio PG plant supports Orlen Group’s objective of achieving CO2 neutrality by 2050. With an annual capacity of 30,000 metric tons, Orlen Południe is the first Polish producer of propylene glycol aiming to meet 75 percent of the country's propylene glycol needs. “We are proud that after a smooth start-up the new plant is operating as planned, for more than one year. The cooperation between Orlen Południe, BASF, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction significantly promotes our business philosophy with the Bio PG technology and improves our value chain. The technical support by BASF and Air Liquide Engineering & Construction was outstanding. This really is a joint success,” says Grzegorz Semerjak, Technology Director at Orlen Południe.

Air Liquide Engineering & Construction provided the license, basic engineering, and proprietary equipment for the new plant, combining its expertise with commercially-proven BASF technology. BASF’s Bio PG technology is operating at full scale for already more than a decade, showing very high selectivity and glycerol conversion using BASF’s H9-66 catalyst. The outstanding catalyst performance enables the hydrogenation in liquid phase without any need for separation of intermediates or solvents, leading to lower energy consumptions compared to other processes.

Orlen Południe opens completely new business of bio products

“We are pleased to offer to our customers an innovative bio-based renewable solution that provides many environmental benefits and helps our customers move towards a low-carbon society. We were delighted to work with Orlen Poludnie on their project, to provide our expertise and a one-stop shop Bio PG solution,” says Dominique Rouge, Vice President, Sales & Technology at Air Liquide Engineering and Construction. “Our propylene glycol catalyst has been operating successfully at customers for over ten years, and we are excited about a successful startup and operation of another commercial plant with Orlen Południe. Thanks to the G2PG process, Orlen Południe has opened a completely new business area of bio products and further increased the value creation at its biodiesel plant. As BASF, we are proud to support this development with our innovative technology and catalyst, and to enable a more sustainable Bio PG production,” says Detlef Ruff, Senior Vice President, Process Catalysts at BASF.