BASF will increase its global capacities for producing the chemical intermediate 1,4‑butanediol (BDO) and the BDO derivative PolyTHF (chemical name: polytetramethylene ether glycol, PTMEG) within the coming two years. BASF’s annual BDO capacity will rise from 535,000 to 650,000 metric tons, its annual PolyTHF capacity from 250,000 to 350,000 metric tons. With respect to PolyTHF, BASF had already announced a capacity increase from 185,000 to 250,000 metric tons per year in August 2012.
The company continuously expands its production capacities by implementing measures to boost efficiency and improve its infrastructure. These measures include, in particular, investments in the double-digit million euro range to increase capacity for BDO operations at BASF’s Geismar, Louisiana, site, and for PolyTHF operations at the Caojing, China, site.
Part of the announced capacity increase will be a BDO and a PolyTHF plant located at Korla, China. As recently announced these plants will be built by two joint venture companies established by BASF and Xinjiang Markor Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. The plants will be capable of manufacturing annually 100,000 metric tons of BDO and 50,000 metric tons of PolyTHF. They are expected to begin operations in 2015. The companies intend to supply these high-quality products to their customers in the Chinese market.
“By expanding our global BDO and PolyTHF capacities, we are moving in line with the steadily growing market and continually rising demand of our customers. The demand for BDO and PolyTHF has increased notably in the Americas. Our measures will enable us to continue meeting this demand reliably out of our local assets in Geismar,” says Sanjeev Gandhi, president, BASF Intermediates division. “In the Asia Pacific region, the markets for PolyTHF continue to grow, and so do our customers. We are taking these measures to support our partners in their growth and accompany them as a reliable local manufacturer and supplier in the future too.”
BDO and its derivatives are used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers. The starting materials for the production of conventional BDO are natural gas, butane, butadiene and propylene.
For 70 years, BASF has been manufacturing BDO at its Ludwigshafen, Germany, Verbund site by means of the Reppe process. This acetylene-based process, which is named after its inventor Walter Reppe, a chemist with BASF, features higher efficiency than any other process. Other BASF sites producing BDO and BDO derivatives are Geismar, Louisiana; Chiba, Japan; Kuantan, Malaysia; Caojing, China and Ulsan, Korea.
It was 30 years ago that BASF produced PolyTHF for the first time at its Ludwigshafen Verbund site. Today, four PolyTHF production facilities make BASF the world’s most important and only global supplier of PolyTHF