BASF AG is reinforcing its position as a supplier to the polyurethane sector with expansion projects in Europe, the United States and Asia.
The company plans a major increase for isocyanate output, with diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) capacity rising from 441 million pounds per year to 1.43 billion pounds per year, and toluene diisocyante capacity (TDI) more than doubling from 286 million pounds per year to 661 million pounds per year.
In the first stage BASF will construct a new, 309 million-pound-per-year MDI plant at its Geismar, La., site.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the Ludwigshafen, Germany-based company plans to raise TDI capacity at its Schwarzheide, Germany, plant from 66 million pounds per year to 154 milllion pounds per year. In both cases, the new capacity will come on stream by 2000.
In the second stage of the project, BASF will start two plants in China, one for MDI and the other for TDI, each with a 220 million-pound-per-year capacity, by the end of 2001.
The two Chinese plants are a joint venture with China Petrochemical Corp. and Shanghai Hua Yi Group.
The facilities will be at the Shanghai Caojing Industrial Zone in Hangshou Bay.
BASF officials said they already have ensured that this isocyanate growth will be supported by projects to increase polyol production worldwide.
The group expects to obtain the polyol raw material, propylene oxide, from its planned joint venture with Shell.
The joint plant at Moerdijk, the Netherlands, is due to have a propylene oxide capacity of 551 million pounds per year, and will also be capable of turning out 1.21 billion pounds per year of styrene monomer.
In addition, BASF says that it has concluded a long-term propylene oxide supply contract in the United States with Huntsman Chemical Corp., based in Salt Lake City.
The capacity additions are ``important strategic steps in the development of BASF into a fully integrated, global supplier of polyurethanes,'' according to Jean-Pierre Dhanis, head of BASF's polyurethane operating division.