|Dow Chemical and BASF are moving forward with plans to build a plant that produces propylene oxide (PO) via a hydrogen peroxide-based route that the companies have collaborated on for more than a year.
Construction of the plant, to be located at BASF's integrated chemical complex in Antwerp, Belgium, is expected to begin in 2006. It is scheduled to go onstream in 2008 with an initial annual PO capacity of 300,000 metric tons.
The hydrogen peroxide will come from a 200,000 metric-ton-per-year BASF/Solvay joint-venture plant to be built at the Antwerp complex, Solvay says. Pending approvals by the respective companies' boards, the plant will go onstream in time to supply the new PO plant.
In the Dow/BASF process, hydrogen peroxide is used to oxidize propylene, producing PO and water. The PO industry has been intent on developing such routes as well as direct oxidation routes to PO. They want to break from traditional routes such as the chlorohydrin process, which is capital intensive and environmentally problematic, and the propylene/styrene or propylene/tert-butyl alcohol routes, whereby coproduction of propylene with styrene or methyl tert-butyl ether is unavoidable.
Hydrogen peroxide maker Degussa and German engineering company Uhde have also been working on a hydrogen peroxide-based route to PO. Sasol is considering a 60,000-metric-ton-per-year plant using their method at its Midlands, South Africa, site for start-up by 2007.
Japan's Sumitomo Chemical has built a PO plant in Chiba, Japan, that uses a cumene peroxidation process with a coproduct that can be recycled back into cumene.
Dow acquired its hydrogen peroxide technology from its 2001 purchase of EniChem's polyurethane business. EniChem had been developing the process since the early 1980s. BASF had been exploring hydrogen peroxide-based routes to PO since the mid-1990s. The companies started examining each other's processes in 2002 and began collaboration about a year later. "The final process design is better than the early-stage hydrogen peroxide/PO processes of both companies and shows the advantages of this collaboration," says Michael R. Gambrell, senior vice president for chemicals and intermediates at Dow.