By Liz White, UT editor
Midland, Michigan-Dow Chemical Co. said 29 Jan that it will expand production of MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) at its Freeport, Texas, facility by 50 percent over the next 36 months.
This addition will boost MDI capacity at Freeport by 113 ktpa from its current 227 ktpa.
"Demand for MDI has been growing steadily, and expanding our production capability will allow us to more effectively address the changing market needs," said Pat Dawson, business vice president, Dow Polyurethanes, in the group's announcement.
The Freeport plant came on stream in 2005, with the potential for expansion as needed. The capacity will be added in two stages, Dow said, with the first half of increased capacity expected to be available in early 2008.
Dow also recently announced plans to expand MDI production at its Estarreja, Portugal, site. The significant increase in Dow's global MDI capacity supports the future growth plans of Dow's performance businesses, which include Dow Polyurethanes, said Dow.
Dawson pointed out that, "The Freeport site is a world-class MDI facility with which Dow underscored its commitment to the polyurethanes industry and the rigid foam market.
"The strong and steadily growing market merits further investment at this production site, and we have the capability to execute the expansion quickly and efficiently," the Dow executive continued.
Dow sees demand for MDI-used to make rigid polyurethane foam and polyurethane elastomers-as growing at 6 to 7 percent annually, a rate that it expects to continue. Current annual demand for MDI is estimated to be 8000 million pounds (3270 kilotonnes).
Demand is "particularly strong in end-use markets such as home, commercial and industrial foam insulation, as well as refrigeration, appliances, and coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers," Dow commented.
As well as the Freeport and Estarreja plants, Dow currently produces and distills MDI at sites in La Porte, Texas; Yeosu, South Korea; Yokkaichi/Kinu Ura, Japan; Stade, Germany; and Delfzijl, The Netherlands.
Dow's announcement follows BASF's recent announcement that it would add 110 ktpa of MDI capacity at Antwerp, in Belgium.
Bayer MaterialScience pointed out recently that it had completed a 50 ktpa MDI expansion at Tarragona in Spain, and added 36 kpta at its Krefeld Uerdingen site in Germany."