The Matrìca Project, Porto Torres, Sardinia, Italy
The Matrìca Project, being implemented by Matrìca, a 50/50 joint-venture (JV) between Eni's subsidiary Versalis (formerly Polimeri Europa) and Novamont, involves the construction of seven bio-based chemical plants. The plants will produce intermediates, primarily monomers, elastomers and additives for lubricants, as well as biodegradable polymers from renewable raw non-food-based feedstock.
Malaysian joint-venture (JV) BASF PETRONAS Chemicals started the construction of an integrated aroma ingredients complex in April 2014.
The plants are being constructed within the Porto Torres petrochemical plant site in Sardinia and are expected to make Porto Torres the world's largest and most innovative integrated green chemicals site. With the exception of the nitrilic rubbers (NBR) plant, the plants at the Porto Torres petrochemical plant site were decommissioned to accommodate the new plants.
In June 2014, the bio-monomers plant came online, with two more plants expected to come online within the next few months and the remaining plants scheduled to be commissioned by 2017. Construction activities for the project started in July 2012.
Matrìca is expected to spend €500m (approximately $680m) on the project. It has been awarded a €70m (approximately $95.27m) loan for the project from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The investment for the construction of the first three plants is estimated to reach €180m (approximately $245m).
The project is expected to generate 100 permanent jobs and 400 to 700 construction jobs.
Matrìca Project details
The new plants will cover an area of 27ha and have an overall production capacity of 350,000t per annum (tpa) of bio-products. The first three plants will produce 70,000tpa of bio-products.
Matrìca's project involves the construction of a bio-monomers plant, a bio-lubricants plant and bio-additives and bio-fillers plants for the tyre industry, which will employ intermediates from the bio-monomers plant. Later stages of the project will include bio-monomers and bio-lubricants plants with larger capacity, adopting the expertise gained from the first two plants, as well as a downstream plant for the production of bio-plastics.
A biomass energy plant to supply electricity at the site is also part of the project. The plant will be constructed by Eni with an additional investment of €230m (approximately $313m).
Bio-chemical plant technologies
The bio-chemical plants at the site will implement proprietary technologies licenced from Novamont. The bio-monomers plant also makes use of a proprietary technology licensed from Novamont. The process does not use ozone in the oxidative scission reaction of vegetable oil and produces intermediates known as azelaic acid and pelargonic acid, as well as other new proprietary products.
Matrìca Research centre
A research centre constructed as part of the project came online in February 2012. Covering an area of 3,500m², it comprises an analytical laboratory and seven pilot plants, the research and results from which are being integrated into the larger projects at the site.
More than 400ha of land have been used for the cultivation of thistle as part of research operations at the site. Other potential oleaginous dryland crops are being experimented for use as feedstock at the site.