By Liz White, UT staffGeismar, Louisiana-BASF is building an alkylethanolamine (AEOA) plant at its major integrated US site at Geismar. Production of these key ingredients-used in polyurethane catalysts-is expected to commence in 2007, said BASF in its 3 March announcement. BASF said the new plant complements existing amine production facilities at the US site, where the chemicals group currently makes some 20 different speciality amines. BASF's worldwide production capacity for these "important intermediates" will rise by about 40 percent when the expansion is complete, the chemicals group added. Currently, BASF only makes alkylethanolamines at its integrated headquarters site in Ludwigshafen, Germany. "We see strong domestic growth opportunity for alkylethanolamines in a number of markets including water treatment, polyurethane catalysts, pharmaceuticals, and coatings," said Joe Lynch, business director for BASF's Amine Intermediates in North America, in BASF's announcement. "This investment will allow us to harvest those domestic opportunities, in particular in the polyurethane catalyst and water treatment markets, key targets for BASF amine business."With this plant we reinforce our leading position as a global producer of standard and speciality amines, of which alkylethanolamines are a prime example," added Dr Walter Gramlich, head of the Intermediates Operating Division of BASF Group. Gramlich added that adding AEOA production at Geismar "will make us the world's only manufacturer of these chemical intermediates with production bases in two regions." BASF is preparing for "further growth of our global amine business which in recent years has been developing very successfully," he commented. According to BASF, alkylethanolamines are mainly used as precursors for flocculants applied in water treatment. But other uses include fabric softener production and in the coatings industry where they act as binders between pigments and resins, as well as in the PU catalysts mentioned above. "