By David Reed, UT EditorAntwerp, Belgium-Bayer MaterialScience plans to add 75 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of aniline capacity at its Antwerp site, by expanding an existing unit and building a second plant. The firm will commit about €20 million ($27 million) to the two projects which, by early 2006, will result in a total capacity in Antwerp of 215 ktpa for the key precursor of MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate)."We need the aniline from Antwerp to go ahead with our plans to expand MDI capacities in Europe," said Peter Vanacker, head of the Polyurethanes Business Unit at Bayer MaterialScience, in a 30 Nov. statement. Bayer has previously announced expansions at MDI plants in Tarragona, Spain, Baytown, Louisiana, and Brunsbüttel, Germany by a total of about 140 ktpa by 2006. "We will then have a global MDI capacity of more than a million tonnes," Vanacker added.The new plant, with a capacity of 50 ktpa, represents the first use of a new process for making aniline which cuts investment and manufacturing costs, the Bayer statement continued. The construction work is scheduled to begin shortly, the statement added. "With the new plant, we want to underline not only our market leadership, but most importantly our technology leadership in the field of polyurethane raw materials," said Tony Van Osselaer (pictured), member of Bayer MaterialScience Board of Management and responsible for Production & Technology, in the prepared statement."