By Liz White, UTI editor
Essen, Germany -- Evonik Industries and Indian chemical company Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited (GACL) are to work together on a project in which Evonik will build a hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) plant, and GACL a propylene oxide (PO) facility, using the HPPO (hydrogen peroxide to PO) route.
The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on the project, which will use innovative, environment-friendly HPPO technology from Evonik, of Essen, Germany, and Uhde, of Dortmund, Germany, the companies announced 12 Jan 2011.
An Evonik spokesperson told Urethanes Technology International that neither the capacity of the plant or the investment is being revealed at present. Evonik's statement said that the model for this alliance is the first industrial-scale HPPO production facility, with 100 kilotonnes per annum capacity, started up in 2008 by Korean company SKC in Ulsan, Korea.
The new facilities will be built in Dahej in India's Gujurat state, but the Evonik spokesman said no date has yet been announced for the start of building. The project still needs approval at board level from Evonik, the statement noted.
"India is one of the world's most important growth markets and we want to increase our presence there. The government of Gujarat has created the right conditions in the chemical industry to welcome foreign investors. The proposed joint project with GACL could become a real landmark in Evonik's presence in India," stressed Dr Thomas Haeberle, an Evonik Degussa GmbH board member, in the Evonik statement.
GACL intends to acquire a license from Evonik and Uhde to use the HPPO process to make propylene oxide. Evonik said it will supply the H2O2 required from an over-the-fence facility.
Evonik said experts are predicting a sharp rise in global demand for PO, used to make polyols for polyurethane production, in coming years. Analysts have noted a 12 percent annual growth in demand for polyurethane materials in India, with PU end use production expected to rise to a total of over 400 kilotonnes by 2012 (data from IAL Consultants).
Currently, the only PO producer in India is Chennai-based Manali Petrochemical Ltd, which has two plants, and 50 ktpa of PO capacity, together with 30 ktpa of polyol capacity.
The HPPO process has clear advantages over conventional routes to propylene oxide. Investment is far lower, making it more economical and it is "extremely environment-friendly," Evonik says.
The route gives high yields with no significant amounts of by-products. "The process is an example of practical resource efficiency," explains Van den Bergh, who heads Evonik's Industrial Chemicals Business Unit.
In terms of the HPPO process technology, Evonik said it is the only single-source supplier of the necessary catalyst and the starting product, hydrogen peroxide.
Propylene oxide produced by the process is used to make polyols which in turn are needed to make PU foams for energy-saving insulation of refrigerators and buildings, as well as for seat cushioning, dashboards and bumpers that reduce vehicle weight and thus cut fuel consumption.