By David Reed, Editor Urethanes TechnologySao Paulo-Bayer SA is analysing a possible 10-kilotonnes-per-annum capacity boost for its MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) plant in Belford Roxo, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The unit, which was first brought on stream back in 1983, is the only MDI plant in South America and presently has a capacity of 45 ktpa, said Ulrich Ostertag, head of the company's business unit polyurethanes for Latin America, adding that no timescale has yet been set for confirmation of the expansion.The Belford Roxo site also has an MDI splitter able to make 13 ktpa of monomeric MDI, a starting point for more specialised products including prepolymers for shoe soles, a key local business. Bayer imports and stores TDI (toluene diisocyanate) for local customers, and also imports about 9000 tonnes a year of base polyether polyols to feed its formulation operation which has about 15 ktpa capacity, most of which goes into rigid foams and speciality products for use in sectors including automotive and elastomers, Ostertag indicated.As part of its efforts to support and develop the local market, Bayer has its own technical service unit in Sao Paulo, with about 10 technical staff directly involved, helping customers run trials and evaluate new materials, said Ostertag. This, again, is mainly focussed on work with rigid foams and specialities, although it also does some work on flexible foams, he added.Altogether, including production personnel, Bayer has about 400 people directly working in its operations throughout the region, Ostertag concluded.This is the first of several reports from the PU Latin America 2005 event, running from 30 August to 1 September in Sao Paulo. A comprehensive review of the event will appear in the October/November issue of Urethanes Technology magazine."