Chimico in laboratorio

Eni’s constantly evolving chemicals operation

Versalis is our company that is committed to developing chemicals using innovative technologies.

Italian chemicals with a circular approach

Versalis (Eni) is Italy's largest chemicals company with an international presence in the plastics and rubber sectors. Active in the production and marketing of intermediates, polyethylene, styrenes and elastomers, it is becoming more involved in renewable chemicals and plastic recycling technologies, for the development of high-value products. It considers sustainability and circularity as strategic drivers to be applied to processes and products throughout their life cycles.

Eni's chemicals business is managed by the Energy Evolution Business Group, one of the two departments that make up the current organisational structure.  The three strands of its sustainability and circular economy strategy are the diversification of raw materials, including those from renewable sources, eco-design, and the development of polymer recycling technologies.

Product and technological innovation, continuous circularity and efficiency are the basis of its transformation and competitiveness at every level.

Business developments

Bioethanol production from second-generation sugars, obtained exclusively from residual biomass that does not compete with the food chain, is restarting in Crescentino (Vercelli). The process uses a total recycling system for process water and also makes the site completely energy-independent by using lignin, that part of the biomass not used for the production of second-generation sugars, as a feedstock for the thermoelectric plant. The plants use a unique proprietary technology called Proesa®. Using the research and know-how developed by Versalis, this technology will enable the company to pursue further developments in the production of a full range of fermentative renewable products, such as bio-oils for bio-refineries, PHA polymers, intermediates for biopolymers and biochemicals.

During the Covid-19 health emergency, the Crescentino production facilities were partially modified in 2020 to produce a range of disinfectants, called Invix®, which use bioethanol as the active ingredient.

The disinfectant is medical-surgical grade and was developed from a World Health Organisation formulation and authorised by the Italian Ministry of Health.

In the plastic waste recycling area, a chemical recycling process based on pyrolysis is being developed for Plasmix¹. This will be used in a pilot plant at the  Mantua site to create new raw materials for producing polymers that have the same characteristics as conventional raw materials.

In 2020, Versalis also acquired 40% of Finproject, a company active in the specialised polymer applications sector. The aim is to generate value by integrating its market positioning for high value-added applications with Versalis' technological and industrial leadership.

Working together for the circular economy

The importance of circularity for Versalis is also reflected in its alliances with other players who are active in the recovery and reuse of waste derived from plastic materials.

In this area, mechanical plastic waste recycling technology has been expanded on an industrial scale through an alliance with Forever Plast, to further the development and marketing of a new range of compact polystyrene products made from recycled packaging. In collaboration with the EcoTyre Consortium, which manages a national network for the collection and treatment of end-of-life tyres, an agreement has been signed with AGR, an Italian company that owns a technology for the processing of used elastomers, to develop new recycled rubber products and applications. We have an agreement in place with COREPLA (the Italian National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling and Recovery of Plastic Packaging) to process used plastics for gasification and chemical recycling (pyrolysis), using the technologies we are developing.

In 2020, Versalis also joined the Circular Plastics Alliance (CPA) to actively contribute to the EU target of using 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic in new products by 2025. The mission of the Alliance, which is supported by the European Commission, is to promote plastics recycling in Europe and develop the market for secondary raw materials. Versalis is also a member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a project that brings together the world's largest chemical companies to speed up the transition to a circular economy and respond to the pollution caused by plastic waste, with a focus on the problem of marine litter.

Finally, Versalis entered the agricultural protection products market through an alliance with AlphaBio Control, a research and development company that specialises in natural crop protection products. Here, the aim is to produce plant-based, biodegradable herbicides and biocides for surface disinfection, using the active ingredients produced by the Porto Torres renewable chemicals platform.

Notes

1) Plasmix - Non-recoverable portion of plastic waste.

An international vision

Versalis offers markets a constantly evolving product portfolio, strengthening its research and licensing with a global strategy.

It draws on its industrial assets, research centres, the invaluable skills of its people, a wide range of proprietary technologies and an extensive distribution and after-sales network to achieve these goals.

The Company is present in the Asia-Pacific region with its subsidiary Versalis Pacific Trading in Shanghai, Mumbai (India) and Singapore. In the same region, LVE, a joint venture with South Korea's Lotte Chemical, aims to advance development in the field of elastomers. The Company also has sales offices in Houston (Texas) to strengthen its presence in the local market, through its Versalis Americas subsidiary, particularly in the field of elastomers. Through the JV VPM with Mazrui Energy Services in Ghana, Congo and the Middle East, it plays an active role in the Oil & Gas sector with its oilfield chemicals portfolio.