By Liz White, UT editor
Ludwigshafen, Germany-BASF AG and The Dow Chemical Co. will conduct a joint feasibility study on building a plant to make toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and precursors at one of their integrated sites in Europe.
A joint statement from the two major suppliers on 21 Nov said this plant, with annual capacity of 300 kilotonnes, would be the world's largest such facility ever built.
Pointing out that "this is an early-stage feasibility study," Pat Dawson, business vice president, Dow Polyurethanes, added that the two groups, "believe that the world's top two chemical companies can create a world-class TDI facility that has outstanding economic and technological competitiveness."
And for BASF, Jacques Delmoitiez, president of BASF's Polyurethanes division, said in the announcement that the approach solidifies the group's, "commitment to the global TDI market by evaluating additional production capabilities."
Dow and BASF will study location, technology and infrastructure before making a decision, and intend the plant to start operating in 2011, if a positive decision is made.
Dawson commented in the joint statement that this TDI facility "would support the future growth plans of Dow's performance businesses, while ensuring our competitiveness to meet increasing customer demand for TDI in Europe."
In the TDI sector in Europe, Dow has recently announced the closure of its Italian TDI plant in Porto Marghera. This 110 ktpa facility was formerly owned by EniChem, which has been reported in the Italian press as having an interest in starting up TDI production there again.
And perhaps more significantly, Hungarian isocyanates producer BorsodChem Rt has announced plans to expand its TDI production at Kazincbarcika to 260 ktpa by 2012, from its current output of 80 ktpa.
Joint ventures in world-scale plants are becoming a favoured option in the polyurethanes sector. Dow and BASF already have a joint venture project in propylene oxide: the two firms broke ground in September for their first HPPO (hydrogen peroxide to propylene oxide) plant at BASF's site in Antwerp, Belgium, after developing this novel route together.
The two groups are now looking at the possibility of additional HPPO projects in other regions, including Asia, with Dow recently mentioning Thailand as a possible location for such a project. "