The Woodlands, Texas - Huntsman Polyurethanes Shanghai (HPS), a joint venture between Huntsman and its partner Shanghai Chlor-Alkali Chemical Co. Ltd, has started to carry out an environmental assessment for adding a second plant to make crude MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) at its existing site in Caojing, Shanghai.
The move is a further step in US-based group Huntsman's previously announced plans to build another MDI plant in China, a company spokesman said. Huntsman has been looking at the potential for a new MDI unit in China for some time now, and doubling the Caojing site's capacity by adding a new 240-kilotonnes-per-annum (ktpa) unit to make crude MDI is now the most attractive option, the Huntsman spokesman indicated.
Investment in a second MDI unit would total around $500 million, for the crude MDI unit, an additional MDI distillation unit with 240 ktpa capacity and a recycling unit for HCl of 120 ktpa capacity. Currently Huntsman also has a wholly owned MDI finishing and prepolymers unit at the site.
HPS has to complete an environmental assessment to gain an environmental permit from the Chinese authorities, before a feasibility study can go ahead, Huntsman's spokesperson said.
Huntsman set up the original 240 ktpa MDI plant with partners BASF and Chinese companies, the Shanghai Hua Group Co, Shanghai Chlor-Alkali Chemical Co. Ltd and Sinopec Shanghai Gao Qiao Petrochemical Corp. This plant, which started up in August 2006, operates as Shanghai Lianheng Isocyanate Co. Ltd (SLIC), in conjunction with plants making the precursors aniline and nitrobenzene.
Huntsman announced 10 Feb 2009 that it was deferring preliminary engineering for adding a 400 ktpa MDI unit to its site in Rozenburg, the Netherlands, which would double that site's capacity. The move came because "existing production capacity is adequate to meet current demand for MDI-based polyurethanes, following the downturn in global economic growth," said a Huntsman statement.
In Chia, both Huntsman and BASF have been looking at expanding their MDI capacity in China for some time. The companies previously indicated that they were looking at various sites, and had not ruled out the option of a further joint venture with their existing partners.
BASF has also been evaluating a site in Chongqing in the far west of China as a potential site for a further world-scale MDI unit, potentially of 400 ktpa capacity.