Oleon has opened an oleochemistry plant near Antwerp in Belgium that produces enzymatic esters for the personal care and food industries.
The €17.4m facility in Oelegem can produce up to 3,000 tonnes a year of sustainably produced esters.
The plant works on the basis of enzymatic esterification, meaning the esters are produced with only natural building blocks such as proteins.
The process drastically reduces the working temperature during the process, while also increasing product quality.
The facility ultimately reduces CO2 emissions from production by more than 40% and reduces waste production by 60%.
This has been made possible through an innovative technology developed by Oleon together with seven other companies, research organizations and academics within the European research programme INCITE.
“The benefits of this technology will not only impact the chemical industry. They will have an impact on lower-carbon production of food, cosmetics and lubricants,” said Oleon chief executive Moussa Naciri.
Oleon regards the Oelegem plant as a test case. The company wants to use its accumulated knowledge from the past years and coming period to consider investments in its plants worldwide.
“We consider this primarily a starting point. Continuing along this path, we are capable of bringing about impactful changes in the European industry in the long term. And this, together with our partners from the INCITE programme,” said Naciri.