Dormagen, Germany-Numbers are important in Bayer MaterialScience's new gas-phase phosgenation process to make toluene diisocyanate (TDI): it uses 40 percent less energy, 80 percent less solvent and plant investment cost are 20 percent lower, the company says.
Such cost savings, via efficient processes and economies of scale are the key to Bayer MaterialScience AG's leadership in its chosen field of polyurethanes raw materials and polycarbonates, according to new BMS chairman, Patrick Thomas.
Speaking at a 17 April event to highlight the group's innovative process for making TDI, Thomas claimed, "We have achieved technological leadership by a process of continuous innovation in important areas of production.
"This is an important factor in attaining cost leadership, which in turn is the key to long-term economic success for both our customers and our own company," Thomas continued.
TDI - used to make flexible foam - can now be made by BMS in a process where the last stage takes place in the gas phase rather than in solution, giving many advantages. As well as using 80 percent less solvent and thus 40 percent less energy than the previous method, it saves plant space so that investment costs are much lower. The "vastly reduced residence time of the reaction partners in the plant," - a figure of one minute versus an hour has been mentioned- means the size of the plant can be reduced considerably compared with a conventional plant of the same capacity, said a Bayer statement.
It is this size reduction that reduces investment costs by around 20 percent. "The new technology optimises productivity ... and is far superior to the improved conventional procedures of our competitors," said Peter Vanacker, head of BMS's Polyurethanes Business Unit Bayer.
BMS has been running a 30 kilotonnes-per-annum pilot plant using the technology at Dormagen since mid-2004, and has decided that any new TDI plants it builds in future will use the approach, Thomas revealed.
The first full-scale example will be the 300 ktpa unit at BMS's production site in Shanghai, scheduled to start up in 2010. This is "part of a long-term investment programme to expand our worldwide TDI capacity in line with market growth," said Vanacker.
BMS is proud of its back-integration for polyurethanes and polycarbonates, in which it manufactures the precursors for both products. As a result, the company is also one of the leading global producers of chlorine, an important basic chemical used in phosgenation to make polycarbonates as well as TDI and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI).
PIC: TDI pilot plant in Dormagen with staff member Wolfgang Taube andproduction manager Dr. Rainer"