BASF and Dow join forces for PO facility

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: BASF, Oxygen

BASF and Dow Chemical have launched a long-term venture to produce
propylene oxide (PO) at the world's first commercial-scale hydrogen
peroxide propylene oxide (HPPO) plant at BASF's production site in
Antwerp, Belgium, which will be used to supply a number of fine
chemicals used in the cosmetics industry.

The plant uses a new more efficient and environmentally-friendly technology developed jointly by BASF and Dow, which is said to provide a more flexible and economic means of manufacturing route PO.

PO is a core ingredient for the $21 billion a year polyurethane industry, and its bi-products, including polyurethanes, propylene glycols and glycol ethers, are used for a number of different applications in the cosmetics industry, from packaging through to formulation.

The HPPO plant, which will have a capacity of 230,000 tons a year, will be fed with hydrogen peroxide (HP) from a second new plant at the Antwerp site. It will be jointly constructed by supplier Solyay, BASF and Dow and is scheduled to start production in early 2008.

An official groundbreaking for the plant took place yesterday, involving Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as well as Dow's Chief Executive, Andrew Liveris, and BASF's Chairman Dr. Jürgen Hambrecht, where the opportunity was taken to stress the environmentally-friendly approach that the facility will take.

"HPPO is an exciting technology that supports Dow's focus on sustainability through greater energy efficiency, reduced physical footprint and improved environmental performance, while at the same time, providing attractive economics,"​ said Dow's Andrew Liveris. "Through innovation and our partnership with BASF, this HPPO technology expedites our drive for sustainability."

BASF and Dow began researching the project back in 2003 and the companies say that they are now considering further HPPO projects in other geographic regions, including Asia. BASF says it is also planning to apply the technology to its facility in Louisiana, US.

The companies says that the new HPPO facility comes in at a considerably smaller investment because it costs 25 per cent less to build, avoids the need for added infrastructure or co-products, and that it simpler raw material integration.

Likewise, it is said to be better for the environment because it reduces waste water by 70 - 80 per cent, reduces energy waste by 35 per cent and reduces the need for further expansion of existing production facilities.

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