Transform Materials and Johnson Matthey partner to enable mercury-free alternative routes for PVC manufacturing

Transform Materials and Johnson Matthey partner to enable mercury-free alternative routes for PVC manufacturing

Partnership brings together Transform Materials' innovative technology for acetylene production using plasma, Johnson Matthey's (JM) acetylene-based VCM technology, and JM's proprietary catalyst

  • By ICN Bureau | June 20, 2024

Transform Materials, a leader in the development of clean and sustainable chemical technologies, has joined forces with Johnson Matthey, a global leader in sustainable technologies. Scientists and engineers at both companies are applying their combined expertise with the aim of revolutionizing VCM production through a novel, lower-carbon-emission, mercury-free process. 

The collaboration brings together Transform Materials' advanced technology for producing acetylene from a range of short-chain hydrocarbons and Johnson Matthey's unique, mercury-free technology and catalyst offering for converting acetylene to vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Acetylene is typically produced by hydrolysis of calcium carbide and is a critical building block in many chemical processes.

Calcium carbide is produced via an energy-intensive process that uses coal and limestone as feedstocks, while VCM is converted to PVC via a polymerization reaction. Traditionally, mercury has been the catalyst of choice to hydrochlorinate acetylene to monomer VCM. However, with the ratification of the worldwide Minimata treaty, the use of mercury catalysts in new VCM plants is now banned. JM's proprietary catalyst offers a solution for new and existing VCM plants.

"Transform Materials is delighted to partner with Johnson Matthey, a company with a rich, 200-year history of innovation and a leader in sustainable technologies," said Kenn Flessner, CEO of Transform Materials. "The PVC industry is seeking new ways to meet production demands while prioritizing sustainability. This partnership enables us to deliver a cutting-edge solution that allows PVC producers to increase output incrementally without compromising their environmental goals."

Today's announcement builds on Transform Materials' recent market success, which includes the signing last year of an agreement with Denka, a leading Japanese chemicals company, for the construction of a Transform Materials acetylene-hydrogen plant. That plant is under construction and is expected to be commissioned in 2025.

"Our collaboration with Transform Materials significantly enhances our value proposition to PVC producers," said Alan Ingham, director of global licensing at Johnson Matthey. "By combining our leading hydrochlorination catalyst and VCM technology offering with Transform Materials' innovative approach to acetylene production, we can now offer PVC manufacturers a truly compelling path to increase production capacity in a more environmentally responsible manner. This partnership aligns with our sustainability goals and positions us to play a key role in driving positive change within the PVC industry."

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