Output Jump Looms for Bio-based Polyols

Aug. 13, 2008

Chicago is getting what Cargill, Minneapolis, Minn. (http://www.cargill.com/), calls the first “world scale” bio-based polyols plant. The company broke ground in early July for the $22-million unit, which will make its BiOH soybean-based polyols, and expects operations to begin in November. The polyols will replace petroleum-derived ones used in the production of polyurethane products like foam. The current annual global market for polyols for polyurethane exceeds 10 billion pounds, so BiOH polyols promise to significantly reduce oil consumption while using only a small percentage of worldwide vegetable oil stocks, says the company.

In flexible foam applications the materials reportedly can provide benefits such as consistent product quality, low color and superior load-bearing capabilities.

Cargill commercialized BiOH polyols in 2005 and since then has largely relied upon a toll processor in the Midwest to make the materials. The company did start production at a facility in Sao Paulo state, Brazil, in late 2007 to serve the Latin American market. The capacity of the new Chicago plant hasn’t been revealed but the company says it will exceed that from current toll production, which will continue, and will serve the North American and European markets.

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