Ludwigshafen, Germany - This year BASF will open a special PolyTHF (polytetrahydrofuran) application laboratory at its Shanghai-Pudong site, to expand technical customer service in Asia, in particular for the PolyTHF growth markets in Elastane and Spandex fibres as well as for thermoplastic polyurethane and polyether ester elastomers (TPUs and TPEEs).
BASF's PolyTHF plant at Caojing, near Shanghai in China, has been operating since early 2005, supplying customers in Asia - "now not only the largest PolyTHF market, but also the fastest growing," said the group, in a recent statement.
The new laboratory in China has access to modern polymer analytics and will be equipped to perform various tests and syntheses. As a result of its proximity to customers the laboratory will be well positioned to develop new recipes and refine current formulations, as well as offering adjustments of mechanical and thermal properties for PolyTHF derivatives.
With 185-kilotonnes-per-annum capacity for the fibre raw material polytetrahydrofuran, BASF claims to be the leading supplier of this intermediate, some 70 percent of which is used in the textiles business.
BASF pointed out that it has grown production over the 25 years since it started making 4 ktpa of PolyTHF at Ludwigshafen in 1983, adding a second plant there in 1995 and expanding it in 2002. The group also added capacity close to Asian and north American customers, starting up a plant in Geismar, Louisiana, in 1987, while Asian customers started receiving PolyTHF from Ulsan in South Korea in 1998.
"For us, PolyTHF is a core business. In keeping with our practice for the past 25 years, we will therefore continue to be a reliable partner in support of our worldwide PolyTHF customer base," said Dr Beate Ehle, president of BASF's Operating Division Intermediates, in the statement.
Not only are the world's most important Spandex and Elastan fibre manufacturers customers, but also a constantly growing number of smaller producers in Asia, Ehle added.
PIC: BASF's PolyTHF plant in Caojing near Shanghai.