Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


BioPG Report Summary

Project ID: 735305

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BioPG (Feasibility of Bio-based Propylene Glycol)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Propylene Glycol (PG) is a non-toxic alcohol that is used in various consumer and industrial applications, such as food and beverage, feed, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, plastics, electronics, etc. Its unique combination of properties makes it a valuable solvent, emulsifier, stabiliser, freezing point reducer and much more. Still, dependency on oil prices, as well as costly and environmentally unfriendly production processes make PG today an expensive additive compared to alternative Ethylene Glycol (EG), a toxic chemical with similar properties and uses, but a tenfold larger market. EG has a sweet taste and is often accidentally ingested, leading to hundreds of fatal intoxication cases around the world annually. Estonian SME Nano OÜ has developed a novel process to produce bio-based PG from agricultural by-products in a fermentation process similar to ethanol fermentation. Innovative production process and our choice of raw materials bring down the production cost and make PG price-competitive with hazardous EG, enabling to replace the latter in various high-value applications where human exposure is inevitable.

The objective of the feasibility study was to determine the business and technical feasibility of Nano’s novel production process to produce bio-based PG, providing vital input to the final product development. In order to do so, three tasks were set. First of all, a comprehensive business plan was developed to ensure successful commercialisation of the innovation project results. Secondly, detailed „freedom-to-operate“-study was performed to ensure no other patents are infringed by the proposed innovation project. Thirdly, a preliminary design of a pilot/demonstration plant for PG manufacturing was outlined.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The SMEI Phase 1 feasibility study has proven the economic and technical feasibility of Nano’s new production process for inexpensive high-quality and bio-based chemicals manufacturing (in addition to Propylene Glycol, Lactic Acid can be produced by changing the last process step). The market study results were used for drafting a detailed business plan for Nano. The freedom-to-operate study demonstrated that Nano has all the necessary rights for commercial exploitation of project results. Finally, we prepared relevant documents for building a pilot production line that helps to optimise the process for commercial scale plants.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The main objective of Nano is to speed up the introduction of bio-based chemicals across industries thanks to commercialising inexpensive high-quality Propylene Glycol and Lactic Acid. Our novel production process enables to accelerate the growth of Green Chemistry industry; maximise recycling and re-use in waste management (thanks to using low-value side streams of agricultural industries as our raw material); and reduce human exposure to toxic chemicals (when our cheaper Propylene Glycol replaces toxic Ethylene Glycol). Compared to current Propylene Glycol manufacturing based on fossil fuels, our technology uses less energy and produces no waste; does not require any toxic chemicals or emit any dangerous emissions; and enables to reduce the market price.

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