BASF today laid the cornerstone of its new integrated production facility for polytetrahydrofuran (PolyTHF®) and tetrahydrofuran (THF) in the Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park (SCIP) in Caojing/Shanghai, China. Themed "Stretch to New Heights," the event celebrated a range of superlatives: With an annual capacity of 60,000 metric tons of PolyTHF® and 80,000 metric tons of THF, the project will be the largest PolyTHF® production facility worldwide. It also is BASF's first investment project in China that is wholly-owned right from its inception. And it will be the first facility worldwide to utilize a new proprietary technology developed by BASF that will ensure the company cost leadership in the production of THF and PolyTHF®.
The new plants, scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2004, will supply to rapidly expanding spandex fibers market in China. At the event, Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF with responsibility for Asia Pacific, reconfirmed the company's commitment to China: "By 2010, we aim to generate 20 percent of BASF's sales and earnings in the chemical business in Asia Pacific with 70 percent of those coming from local production. Our new THF/PolyTHF® facility in Caojing marks an important step in achieving these goals."
To highlight the product's advantages to local customers, BASF today launched a Chinese brand name for PolyTHF®: Bao Li Fu, which means "enrich your fabric." Dr. Walter Gramlich, President of BASF's Operating Division Intermediates, said: "BASF aims to be the preferred supplier of spandex raw materials for the rapidly growing Chinese market. This is why we decided to build this state-of-the art plant in this attractive market. Our innovative technology reduces the capital investment for the manufacture of THF and PolyTHF® and also decreases the cost of raw materials."
The production facility in Caojing is the first plant to utilize BASF's newly developed proprietary technology to convert butane directly to THF and subsequently to PolyTHF®. This technology, which eliminates the intermediate step of producing 1,4-butanediol (BDO), makes manufacturing more efficient and ensures BASF's cost leadership. Compared to the conventional process, the new technology also uses less energy, thus making a contribution to sustainable development.
PolyTHF® is an important component in the manufacture of elastic spandex fibers, which are widely used for textile applications like sportswear, swimwear, inner and outer wear. PolyTHF® is also important as an intermediate for thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) used for hoses, films and cable sheathing. Further applications are thermoplastic polyetheresters or polyetheramides and cast elastomers, which are used, for example in the manufacturing of wheels for skateboards and inline skates.
THF is precursor for PolyTHF® and is also used as a specialty solvent, for example in the pharmaceutical production.
In Asia, BASF also has production facilities for THF and PolyTHF® in Yokkaichi, Japan and Ulsan, Korea. BASF also produces THF and PolyTHF® in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and in Geismar, Louisiana.
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