BASF SE has announced two joint ventures — one that will see it join forces to produce polyoxymethylene (POM) in South Korea and another to make materials for packaging from renewable resources in Belgium.
The JV announced between Ludwigshafen, Germany-based BASF and Avantium of the Netherlands, will use Avantium's YXY process to make and market furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is made from plant-based industrial sugars, and is a chemical building block for polyethylenefuranoate (PEF), used in food packaging film and plastic bottles.
Avantium's proprietary YXY process, developed in its laboratories in Amsterdam, is currently used at its FDCA pilot plant in Geleen, Netherlands. BASF's involvement, when the joint venture is signed, will enable the process to be further developed and a reference plant to be built at BASF's Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. It is intended that this FDCA plant will have a production capacity of up to 50,000 metric tons per year.
“The aim is to build up world-leading positions in FDCA and PEF, and subsequently license the technology for industrial scale application,” said BASF in a statement.
PEF will be targeted at the packaging market, as its barrier properties make it suitable for food packaging films and bottles. PEF can also be recycled.
“The contemplated joint venture with BASF is a major milestone in the development and commercialization of this game-changing technology. Partnering with the number one chemical company in the world, provides us with access to the capabilities that are required to bring this technology to industrialization,” said Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium. “The joint venture will further strengthen the global technology and establish the market leadership for FDCA and PEF. With BASF, we plan to start production of FDCA to enable the first commercial launch of this exciting bio-based material and to further develop and grow the market to its full potential.”
Stefan Blank, president of BASF's Intermediates division, said “With the planned joint venture, we want to combine Avantium's specific production technology and application know-how for FDCA and PEF with the strengths of BASF. Of particular importance is our expertise in market development and large-scale production as an established and reliable chemical company in the business of intermediates and polymers.”
In December 2015, Avantium announced an agreement with Mitsui to commercialize FDCA and PEF in Asia.
The project with Kolon Plastics will establish a joint venture in South Korea to produce POM. BASF said that after the new plant starts up in 2018, it will discontinue production of POM in Ludwigshafen.
The new facility will have an annual capacity of 70,000 tonnes and will be located at Kolon's existing manufacturing site in Gimcheon, South Korea, which already produces POM. The 50-50 joint venture named Kolon BASF innoPOM Inc. plans the new facility to start operating in the second half of 2018. The partners say the site will become “the world's largest complex for the production of POM.”
The two groups will separately market the products around the world under their respective trade names and proprietary formulations: Kocetal for Kolon products and Ultraform for BASF products.
“Kolon and BASF have had an excellent business relationship for many years,” said Raimar Jahn, president of BASF's Performance Materials division. “The markets for POM are growing around the world. Particularly in Asia the joint venture will strengthen our ability to support our customers with high-performing, innovative specialties.”
Properties of POM materials include high strength and resilience, high friction performance and chemical resistance, and applications are used in automotive, electric and electronic goods, consumer goods, medical products and construction.
Hee Goo Jang, CEO of Kolon Plastics' said: “In the new joint venture the strengths of each company will be reinforced enhancing our overall competitiveness. Kolon Plastics' globally leading technology and the efficiencies of the existing infrastructure will generate significant synergies. We are looking forward to this joint venture that may lead to further opportunities for cooperation.”