ADM Plans Green Production for USP-Grade Propylene Glycol

May 28, 2009
Patricia Van Arnum

Patricia Van Arnum was executive editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Archers Daniel Midland Company (Decatur, IL) is bringing on line a new propylene glycol plant in Decatur, Illinois, in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM, Decatur, IL) is bringing on line a new propylene glycol plant in Decatur, Illinois, in the fourth quarter of 2009. The plant will produce industrial-grade and United States Pharmacopeia (USP)-grade propylene glycol, which may be used as an excipient in pharmaceutical products. 

The plant’s capacity is 100,000 metric tons, which represents approximately 12% of the US capacity for propylene glycol for 2010, according to the company. The Decatur plant is ADM’s first propylene glycol plant, and the company says it is the first worldwide propylene glycol plant that manufactures a grade of USP-grade propylene glycol from renewable sources.

ADM’s renewable propylene glycol is derived from soybeans or rapeseeds. The company processes soybeans or rapeseeds through a crushing, dehulling process, conditioning, and flaking operation into a crude vegetable oil. This vegetable oil is further processed into degummed or refined oil. The vegetable oil is processed through a transesterfication process into crude biodiesel and crude glycerin. The crude glycerin is further processed through several evaporation and distillation steps into a refined, kosher, USP-grade glycerin. This glycerin is either sold into the market or reacted through ADM’s hydrogenolysis process into propylene glycol. The propylene glycol is further distilled into an industrial grade or a USP grade of propylene glycol.

In addition to manufacturing propylene glycol from glycerin, ADM has the capability to manufacture propylene glycol via sorbitol. Sorbitol is also a renewable-based feedstock that ADM produces through its corn milling process. 

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