Ludwigshafen, Germany - BASF SE has started operating its new 500 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) nitric acid plant at Antwerp, the group announced 14 May, adding that the plant's output of 68-percent concentrated acid will mainly be used to make polyurethanes.
According to BASF, this is its first nitric acid plant built using exclusively in-house own technology: all the engineering, procurement and assembly expertise is from BASF.
This approach saves cost at the new nitric acid plant - one of the world's largest, according to BASF. "Another benefit for us is the gain in know-how. I am convinced that this will provide a long-term strategic advantage for BASF," said Dr Heinz-Josef Kneuper, project leader and technology manager for nitric acid, in a company statement.
The 68-percent concentrated nitric acid which the Antwerp unit is used mainly in polyurethane chemistry to synthesise the polyurethane chemicals MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and TDI (toluene diisocyanate), said BASF.
The fully automated plant has ultramodern process control systems, as well as a high-efficiency system to remove nitrogen oxide from waste gases, the company said. In replacing a plant that is more than 40 years old, BASF will also get significant increases in yields.