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BASF boosts automotive market lineup

By: Frank Esposito

October 18, 2013

LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY — BASF SE (Hall 5/C21) is bringing a reorganized plastics business and a host of new materials and applications from across the engineering resins spectrum to the K 2013 show.

The reorganization went into effect early this year and now includes four units: performance materials (including epoxy, nylon, polyurethane), monomers (including toluene di-isocyanate), intermediates (including amines) and petrochemicals (including other plastics).

The changes will help BASF grow in its strong automotive market, as well as in up-and-coming sectors such as wind power and bioplastics, board Vice Chairman Martin Brudermüller said at a pre-K press event at the firm's headquarters in Ludwigshafen.

"We always want to be 2 percent ahead of the market, and act accordingly when we find the right solutions," Brudermüller said.

Recent BASF growth initiatives highlighted by Brudermüller included increasing expanded polystyrene capacity in Ludwigshafen, as well as opening a new plant with almost 700 million pounds of capacity for PU feedstock TDI there in 2014.

New BASF materials can contribute to lightweighting in vehicles, which then creates fuel savings, performance materials President Raimar Jahn said high-performance composites increasingly are being used in auto body and chassis applications.

"Innovation can be great fun if you have a broad range of material to work with," Jahn said.

In plastic additives, BASF just opened a 35 million-pound-capacity plant making customer-specific blends in Bahrain. The unit also is making Joncryl-brand additives at a plant in McIntosh, Ala. That material can repair split polymer chains in PET recycling, officials said.

The lineup of new materials at K 2013 in Düsseldorf includes :

* Ultracom-brand composites, made from Ultramid-brand nylon and continuous fibers. The first high-volume auto components made from Ultracom will be on display at the show, engineering plastics lightweight team head Andreas Wollny said. The material already has been used in seats in Opel Astra vehicles.

* High-temperature-resistant grades of Ultramid for extrusion blow molding, allowing for the production of pipes from the material. The material offers better performance than polypropylene, according to automotive market development executive Martin Volker. The new grades now are available in sample amounts, but will be sold in commercial volumes after the show, he said.

* Flexible Ultramid grades for extruded pipe and tubing in automotive and gas applications. One grade is targeted at liquid conveying at high temperatures, while another is intended for vacuum and vent lines, according to automotive product development executive Matthias Scheibitz. The materials offer good stress cracking performance, low water absorption and good chemical resistance, Scheibitz added.

* A new grade of Ultradur-brand polybutylene terephthalate for fiberoptic cables, allowing for the handling of increased Internet traffic. The cables can contain up to 12 fibers and can protect against kinking and crush resistance, said universal business development executive Simon Kniesel.

* A new hydrolysis-resistant Ultradur PBT for auto electronics. The material can be used in plugs, connectors and housings, electrical/electronic business development executive Peter Eibeck said. Grades that are 15 and 30 percent glass-filled are available. They offer long service life under intense conditions, Eibeck added.

* New Elastostat-brand TPU compounds with anti-static properties to prevent failure of electronic components or ignition risk from gases and dust. The new grades are easy to process and can be used in intermediate bulk containers or large bags for combustible liquids or dusty goods, PU elastomers sales specialist Anja Oltmanns said. They also can be used in pipelines, hoses and conveyor belts.

BASF ranks as one of the world's largest makers of chemicals, specialty plastics and plastic additives. The firm employs more than 110,000 worldwide and posted sales of almost $94 billion in 2012.