"EPINITY®’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) - including biogenic carbon and direct land use change - is up to 67% lower than for petro-based ECH."

Masayoshi Namba

BUSINESS DIRECTOR, AGC VINYTHAI PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED (AVT)

July 10, 2024

Could you provide an overview of recent developments at AVT? 

AGC Vinythai Public Company Limited (AVT) has been successfully producing bio-based Epichlorohydrin (ECH) from 100% renewable glycerine for over 12 years at the Map Ta Phut site, in the Rayong Province of Thailand. AVT is a member of AGC Group, Japan, and a leading caustic soda, PVC and bio-based Epichlorohydrin producer in Thailand. 

Since we are the pioneer in bringing sustainable, bio-based ECH to customers, we wanted to differentiate our best-in-class product so in July 2022, we launched EPINITY®, our new brand name for our bio-based Epichlorohydrin (ECH) product. We also registered the EPINITY® trademark in various regions and launched a new website epinitychem.com.

Today, the EPINITY® brand is well-recognized by both customers and end-users as an important force against climate change. In July last year, we received ISCC PLUS certification for producing a bio-circular ECH from a residual of biological origin. Certification is important to us to demonstrate that EPINITY® has a superior sustainability profile. Just because a company says its product is more sustainable, doesn’t mean that it is. 

Could you elaborate on your current capacities and the raw materials you draw from?

AVT’s ECH production is co-located with our chlor-alkali and PVC production at the Map Ta Phut 1 site. Through debottlenecking work, we ramped up capacity from 100,000 MT/year to 120,000 MT/year in 2020 and we are exploring further expansions to increase production in line with demand. EPINITY® is derived from glycerine, a by-product from the production of biodiesel and oleochemicals made from vegetable oil. The sustainability merits are all the greater since the feedstock is of a waste nature.

What are the benefits of using bio-ECH as opposed to petrochemical-based ECH from a sustainability perspective? 

Originally, ECH was derived from fossil fuels, from propylene. This petro-based ECH is still on the market and is used widely today as a commodity chemical. AVT’s biobased ECH EPINITY® is made from renewable raw materials (glycerine) with a more sustainable production process. This gives EPINITY® a significantly improved carbon footprint compared to petro-based ECH. 

In addition to its reduced carbon footprint and 100% bio-based carbon content, a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) benchmarked AVT’s whole process against a state-of-the-art petro-based process. The LCA found that EPINITY®’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) - including biogenic carbon and direct land use change - is up to 67% lower than for petro-based ECH. 

How easy is it to make the swap?

Not all chemicals can be replaced easily, however, as a drop-in chemical, EPINITY® can be used as a direct replacement for petro-based ECH with no need to reformulate or change manufacturing processes. This simplicity presents an attractive proposition for industries seeking to enhance their sustainability profile without disrupting existing operations. 

What has been the recent uptake for bio-ECH?

EPINITY® is mainly used as a precursor to epoxy resins with applications in protective coatings, electronic components, adhesives and advanced composite materials in the construction, automotive, electronics and industrial sectors. Other applications outside of epoxy resins include intermediate chemicals for paper and water treatment, mild surfactants in personal care, elastomers, and other fine chemical applications. 

The coatings market has been under pressure because of weakened economic conditions, but we expect demand to pick up in the future. On the supply side, China has seen a growing number of new ECH producers tilting the market into over-supply. Nevertheless, the imbalance is temporary and the long-term fundamentals look healthy. From our plant in Thailand, we supply to customers all over the world. EPINITY® provides a differentiation that is sought after by the market and we identify great scope for expansion. 

At the same time, regulations are nudging the market towards bio-based alternatives. For example, the European Commission has been paying more attention to seeing more sustainable and safer chemicals used in everyday items, and our EPINITY® brand fits perfectly within this agenda. 

Do you have a final message?

We continue to grow our business supplying EPINITY® worldwide to support the growth of our customers and continue to raise awareness about our alternative to petro-based ECH which can help customers and end-users meet their carbon reduction targets. At AVT, we are engaged on all fronts to continually improve the sustainability of our product. We strive to remain the customer’s first choice for sustainable bio-based Epichlorohydrin.

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