By Liz White, UT editor
Ludwigshafen, Germany-BASF AG is expanding its plant for methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) in Antwerp, Belgium, by 110 kilotonnes per annum. BASF also revealed that it is considering building a second MDI plant in China, to start production from 2010 onwards, following the August 2006 inauguration of its shared plant in Caojing, near Shanghai.
The expansion, due to be completed in the second quarter of 2007, will make the plant "the largest of its type in the world," claims BASF. The increased capacity at the two-train plant will lift total MDI capacity at BASF's Antwerp location to 560 ktpa.
BASF also plans to construct two plants at the site for the MDI precursors aniline and mono-nitrobenzene, with 180 ktpa and 280 ktpa capacity respectively, scheduled to start operations simultaneously with the MDI expansion. Construction work for these two new plants "has already been largely completed," BASF said.
"We expect global demand for MDI to increase and are therefore expanding our Antwerp plant to create the capacity needed to meet this strong growth," explained Uwe Hartwig, head of the European regional business unit in BASF's Polyurethanes division, in BASF's 13 Dec announcement.
Hartwig added that this expansion will "further strengthen our position as a leading and reliable producer of polyurethane basic products and systems."
He pointed out that "Antwerp is an important platform to serve our MDI customers and system houses," in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Antwerp is BASF's only European MDI site: its other MDI plants are in Geismar, Louisiana; Yeosu, Korea; and Caojing, China, BASF said.
BASF added that it expects forthcoming global demand growth for MDI averaging more than 6 percent, "with particularly strong growth in Asia." Growth is "largely driven by MDI-based insulating materials that play an important role in saving valuable energy, as well as by a number of innovative applications such as SPS (sandwich plate systems) and binders to reinforce dikes (Elastocoat), the German polyurethanes supplier said. "