German renewable ethanol producer Crop Energies has acquired a 50% stake in Dutch bio-chemicals start-up Syclus, the companies announced.

The aim of the €1.8M (US$1.75M) acquisition was to build an industrial-scale plant to produce renewable ethylene from ethanol as a sustainable alternative to fossil oil and gas-based ethylene, the companies said on 7 September.

Applications for ethylene-based plastics and polymers include packaging, building materials, automotive applications, paints, adhesives, fibres, clothing and other everyday products.

Syclus said it planned to build and operate a production facility for renewable ethylene at Chemelot industrial park in Geleen, the Netherlands. While the plant was under development, the company said it would study the technical and economic viability of producing renewable ethylene.

If the analysis was positive, basic engineering work was due to start late next year with production at the 100,000 tonnes/year plant expected to start in 2026. This would require an investment of €85M-€100M (US$82.8M-US$974.3M).

To date, Crop Energies said it had mainly produced ethanol as a domestic fuel substitute as well as food and animal feed products, but the focus in future would be on the de-fossilisation of other sectors.

“Producing renewable ethylene from our sustainable ethanol is a… way to make the chemical sector independent from fossil resources,” Crop Energies CEO Dr Stephan Meeder said.

In recent years, European demand for ethylene has been approximately 20M tonnes/year.