Oleon ©
Oleon ©

Leading European oleochemicals producer Oleon has opened a new plant in Oelegem, near Antwerp.

Part of the Avril Group of companies, Oleon specialises in converting natural fats and oils into a range of oleochemical products, including fatty acids, glycerine, esters, dimers, technical oils, speciality oleochemicals and biodiesel.

The new plant utilised enzymatic esterification, which involved the production of esters with natural building blocks – proteins or enzymes, Oleon said on 15 June.

This had been made possible through technology developed by Oleon with seven other companies, research organisations and academics, within the European research programme INCITE.

Use of the technology reduced the working temperature during the process while improving product quality, the company said.

“This will enable us to greatly reduce CO₂ emissions from the production of enzymatic esters for the food and cosmetics industries, amongst other sectors, while … producing significantly less waste,” Jeroen Dirckx, managing director, Derivatives, said.

A total of €17.4M (US$19M) had been invested in the INCITE project, including €13.3M (US$14.5M) in European subsidies, the company said.

With its location along the Albert Canal, the plant is directly connected to the Port of Antwerp.

The Oelegem plant was seen as a test case and Oleon said it would be looking at future investments globally.

Meanwhile, the Kerfoot Group – part of the Avril Group – announced on 22 June it would begin its transition to the Oleon brand.

“Having been acquired by Avril, we are delighted to now make the further transition into the Oleon brand. It is a natural evolution for our business,” Kerfoot commercial and managing director Simon Corner said.

Kerfoot is a leading manufacturer of natural and organic oils for the food, personal care, pharmaceutical, animal care and industrial sectors. The company exports to more than 40 countries from its four sites in Yorkshire, the UK, delivering over 100,000 tonnes/year of oil globally.

The Kerfoot Group said it would fully transition to the Oleon brand name by the first quarter of next year.