BASF to expand capacities for BDO and PolyTHF

German chemicals firm BASF will increase its global capacities for producing the chemical intermediate 1,4-butanediol (BDO) and the BDO derivative PolyTHF (chemical name: polytetramethylene ether glycol, PTMEG) within the coming two years. BASF’s annual BDO capacity will rise from 535,000 to 650,000 tonnes, its annual PolyTHF capacity from 250,000 to 350,000 tonnes. With respect to PolyTHF, BASF had already announced a capacity increase from 185,000 to 250,000 tonnes/year in August 2012.

The company continuously expands its production capacities by implementing measures to boost efficiency and improve its infrastructure. These measures include, in particular, investments in the double-digit million euro range to increase capacity for BDO operations at BASF’s Geismar, Louisiana, site, and for PolyTHF operations at the Caojing, China, site.

Part of the announced capacity increase will be a BDO and a PolyTHF plant located at Korla, China. As recently announced these plants will be built by two joint venture companies established by BASF and Xinjiang Markor Chemical Industry. The plants will be capable of manufacturing annually 100,000 tonnes of BDO and 50,000 tonnes of PolyTHF. They are expected to begin operations in 2015. The companies intend to supply these products to the Chinese market.

The company says that the rising demand for BDO and PolyTHF in the Americas will be met by its Geismar plant while in Asia Pacific, the partners will provide the support.

BDO and its derivatives are used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibres. The starting materials for the production of conventional BDO are natural gas, butane, butadiene and propylene.

For 70 years, BASF has been manufacturing BDO at its Ludwigshafen, German site by means of the Reppe process. This acetylene-based process, which is named after its inventor Walter Reppe, a chemist with BASF, features higher efficiency than any other process, says the firm. Other BASF sites producing BDO and BDO derivatives are Geismar, Louisiana; Chiba, Japan; Kuantan, Malaysia; Caojing, China and Ulsan, Korea.


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