Ludwigshafen, Germany - BASF is expanding capacity for the intermediate tetrahydrofuran (THF) by 30 kilotonnes per annum at its Ludwigshafen site.
When the expansion is complete, at the end of 2007, BASF's total THF capacity will be 210 ktpa, said a 9 May announcement from the group. BASF makes THF in Europe, NAFTA and Asia.
"This increase in capacity supports our customers' growth mainly in Europe. We expand our capacity primarily in order to guarantee our ability to meet the growing THF demand of the European pharmaceutical industry," commented Hartwig Michels, who heads the regional Diols and Polyalcohols business unit of BASF's Intermediates division, in the company announcement.
In the polyurethane sector, THF also serves as a basis for making PolyTHF - an important component in producing highly elastic spandex fibres for textiles, for example sportswear and swimsuits.
In addition, PolyTHF is a major intermediate for thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs), used to make, for example, highly abrasion-resistant, but flexible hoses, films or cable sheathing. Other applications include thermoplastic polyetheresters and polyetheramides or cast elastomers required to make skateboard and inline skate wheels.
In the context of pharmaceutical uses, BASF points out that THF is especially well suited for the complex water-sensitive reactions that happen frequently in making active ingredients for the sector. "BASF is the only supplier in the world that offers high-purity THF with an extremely low residual water content of 0.01 percent or less," the company said. epw"