PLA production and Lactid intermediate purification

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PLA is one of the most growing and topical product in green industry with large potentials over the next decades.

PLA is a bio-based product. Rising costs of petro-based products and environmental considerations result in an increasing demand for such alternative products.


The typical way to produce PLA is the catalytic ring opening polymerization (ROP) of Lactid. Lactid is obtained by dimerisation of lactic acid followed by a cyclization reaction.

Research & Markets analysts predict that lactic acid and PLA markets could approach 2.6 billion USD in 2016 (versus around 0.75 billion USD in 2011).

Lactic acid can be produced with sugar cane, sugar beet, wheat, corn, etc.

During the intermediate step of Lactid production, different isomers are obtained and impurities remain in the product. It is extremely important to separate the different isomers and to purify them before the last step of PLA polymerization and production to obtain compounds with good performance and properties.


PLA is used in packaging, disposable cutlery, textile and is extending its application areas.

It can be used alone or in association with other compounds to get plastics with specific properties.

PLA is considered as biodegradable in certain conditions. But it can also be recycled by de-polymerization in Lactid.

The Lactid, intermediate monomer of polylactic acid (PLA) production, has to be purified before polymerization.

Proabd® MSC is the perfect solution to purify Lactid and to avoid degrading the product as it could occur with other technologies such as distillation.

Proabd® MSC units allow purifying high quantities of Lactid. According to the quality of the feed and to customer’s requirements, different stages are necessary to obtain Lactid with very high purity and recovery yields.

  • No high operating temperatures
  • No irreversible degradation of the product in oligomers or polymers
  • Low energy consumption
  • Cost effective solution
  • High quality and recovery yield with limited investments


The Proabd® MSC process is a leading technology for the purification of many polymer intermediates.

Fives has started to successfully purify Lactid at lab scale more than 10 years ago and has a large experience for the purification of monomers and polymers intermediates.

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