- Chemistry. The fascinating world of chemistry unites biofuel and hand disinfectant. Chemistry from renewables helps us explore, experiment, and foster chemistry from renewable sources to make more sustainable products.
- Chemistry from renewable sources. This approach is a cornerstone for the energy transition and the bioeconomy. It focuses on developing new production processes using renewable raw materials, for example, solid biomass, to produce intermediates and polymers that are more and more sustainable.
- Decarbonization of processes and products. Versalis, Eni's chemical company uses renewable sources to develop more sustainable products focused on decarbonization.
Innovation in chemistry
Both biofuels and disinfectants can be produced using renewable biobased raw materials and both using sustainable processes and advanced technologies.
It's all about chemistry!
Innovation has led to "chemistry from renewables," which aims to develop chemical products with lower carbon footprints, made possible by the employment of biobased raw materials and by the application of more energy efficient industrial processes.
A small curiosity
During the Covid-19 health emergency, Versalis developed a range of hands and surface disinfectants called Invix®. These disinfectants use plant-based ethanol as the primary ingredient, as authorized by the Ministry of Health. Invix® helped prepare disinfection facilities just a few months into the pandemic.
Invix® product range by Versalis
At the Crescentino plant, Versalis uses the proprietary PROESA® technology to produce bioethanol by fermenting second-generation sugars from biomass.
This application is unique on the industrial scale. Instead of using biomass composed of edible products such as beet, corn, or sugarcane instead of the sugar itself, as in typical first-generation processes, PROESA® uses lignocellulosic biomass (i.e. organic waste materials), available extensively in nature, which does not compete with the food chain.
The plant is also a model of sustainable enterprise. For example, the biomass thermal power plant runs the Crescentino plant entirely with renewable steam, necessary for the production process.
The Versalis plant in Crescentino
Versalis bioethanol is referred to as "advanced" in compliance with the European Renewable Energy Directive RED II. It is a fuel from renewable feedstock to be used in blends with gasoline to boost sustainable mobility.
The power of polymers in support of the circular economy
Versalis Revive® products are a concrete example of the company's commitment in its sustainable path. It is a range of products with different polymer bases (styrenics, elastomers, and polyethylene) developed from recycled raw materials developed in Versalis research laboratories. With this range of products, the chemical company gives new life to plastic and rubber waste through recycling, creating new products for many contexts, also for packaging.
Mechanical recycling of packaging plastics
From a circular economy perspective, another milestone achieved through sustainable chemistry is the creation of the Balance® brand, a range of products made of raw materials from recycle, also for packaging.
The Balance® products are ISCC PLUS certified and are, for example, plastics made from bio-naphtha produced with organic raw materials or those realized with oil (r-Oil) obtained by recycling mixed plastic waste materials. The bio-naphtha comes from Eni's biorefineries, powered by plant oils, waste cooking oil, and other organic waste.
Versalis' current mission is to become a leader in sustainable chemistry, focusing mainly on the increasing development of advanced technologies, working alongside Eni in its goal of becoming carbon neutral.
From past to present, the evolution of Versalis
Eni's chemical roots go back to 1936 with the establishment of ANIC (national carbide hydrogenation company) by Agip and Montecatini. Years of transformations and corporate changes have led to the birth, years later, of EniChem. After establishing a Joint Venture with a U.S. Company, in 2012 the company took the name of Versalis.
Currently, Eni’s chemical company is Italy's leading chemical company by turnover and production volumes and operates at an international level.
The author: Nicoletta Boldrini
Independent Journalist, popularizer of emerging technologies, author & keynote speaker | Double soul: tech & humanist | Futurist & Futures Studies Facilitator | I analyze impacts of emerging techs on alternative futures.