Construction begins at Thailand’s first bioeconomy complex

The foundation stone was laid last week at Thailand’s first bioeconomy complex, a private-sector venture that will produce biofuels, and aims to eventually churn out materials for biodegradable plastics, cosmetics, additives, animal feeds, personal care, home care, and fragrances.

Thailand is committed to supporting the development of a bioeconomy sector as part of its national strategy to create a higher technology, sustainable, and green economy, and society. That 20-year strategy, called Thailand 4.0, prioritizes ten industries, and the bioeconomy is one of them.

The GGC KTIS Bio Industrial Company is a joint venture between Global Green Chemicals (GGC) and Kaset Thai International Sugar Corporation (KTIS). GGC is a subsidiary of PTT Global Chemical. Both partners are listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, and each holds a 50 percent stake in the $245 million facility, named the Nakhon Sawan Biocomplex, for the central province where it is located.

“Commercial operations are expected in the first quarter of 2021, and the venture will plan second-phase development during the construction period,” said Witoon Suewatanakul, managing director of GGC. “The Nakhon Sawan Biocomplex can add higher value to biochemical products in the future.”

Thailand’s robust agricultural sector is a treasure trove of raw materials for bioproducts and research and development. Sugar cane and its detritus will be the primary raw material for the new complex.

GGC and KTIS signed an agreement in August 2018 with Finnish state-owned Chempolis Company, a biorefinery technology provider, to conduct a feasibility study of biochemical products from sugar fiber.

The complex will add value to sugar juice and fiber, from which furfural, acetic acid, and lignin can be distilled as raw materials. Those materials can be used in biodegradable plastics, greener solvents, and synthetic rubber, in addition to biomass.

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