By Liz White, UT staffHerne, Germany-Degussa AG has just installed the distillation column for the plant it is building in Herne to make dicyclohexylmethane-4,4-diisocyanate (H12MDI). "The first dicyclohexylmethane diisocyanate will be produced in the latter half of 2005," said project manager Stephan Kohlstruk. The H12MDI material represents, "an important addition to Degussa's range of aliphatic isocyanates," the firm said. Degussa already manufacture the aliphatic diisocyanates isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) and trimethylhexamethylene diisocyanate (TMDI). Degussa claims to be the world market leader in making isophorone diisocyanate and its derivatives.Degussa said construction of the new plant, being built by its Coatings & Colorants Business Unit, based in Düsseldorf, is well on schedule. Building work commenced in May 2004, the steel structure was finished in January 2005 and the first equipment has now been installed. The cycloaliphatic structure of H12MDI-tradename VESTANAT H12MDI-means it is suitable for making light- and weather-resistant polyurethanes with "outstanding mechanical properties," Degussa said. The end products also have good resistance to hydrolysis and chemicals. Typical products made using H12MDI include elastomers, polyurethane dispersions, and radiation-curing urethane acrylates.The picture shows the distillation column being installed at Degussa's Herne site. "