– We build competence in innovative areas, thus maximizing profits and strengthening competitive advantages. We were the first in Poland to start lactic acid production using microorganisms. We are creating a bioproduct which is steadily growing in demand worldwide. The green investment implemented at ORLEN Południe will bring us tangible business benefits and will be another important step in transforming the company into a modern biorefinery. It will also contribute to the implementation of objectives set in our strategy aimed at achieving emission neutrality of ORLEN Group by 2050,” said Daniel Obajtek, President of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN.
Lactic acid is used in various industries. It is widely used as an acidifying agent and preservative. In confectionery industry it can e.g. improve the structure and volume of baked goods. Moreover, lactic acid and its derivatives are used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry as natural moisturizing ingredients. The product can also be used to produce eco-friendly materials as an alternative to plastic. The polylactide (PLA) produced from it is used, among others, to produce biodegradable packaging. PLA is also used in the construction, technology, optics and automotive industries. Due to its properties, including transparency, PLA is also used in the production of photovoltaic cells.
Microorganisms are used in the production of lactic acid in ORLEN Południe. They transform organic raw materials into a high-quality and environmentally friendly product. The main raw material here is molasses, which is a waste product from sugar production.
So far, lactic acid has not been produced in Poland, and its shortage in the entire region of Central and Eastern Europe forced the company to import it from Asia and Western Europe. The new installation at the pilot stage will produce 5 tons of lactic acid per year. Its launch is the first step towards full-scale production, i.e. up to 5,000 tonnes per year. Currently the demand for this bio-product in Poland is approximately 8,000 tonnes annually. Ultimately, ORLEN Południe will cover more than half of the domestic demand.