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BASF expands MDI production capacity


* World’s largest MDI complex with annual capacity of 560,000 metric tons at BASF’s Antwerp Verbund site
* Demand forecast to grow by 6 percent per year

BASF is expanding its production complex for diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) in Antwerp, Belgium, to make it the largest of its type in the world. In the second quarter of 2007, the annual capacity of the two-train plant at BASF’s Antwerp Verbund site is to be expanded from 450,000 to 560,000 metric tons. At the same time, BASF plans to construct two plants at the site for the MDI precursors aniline and mononitrobenzene. The plants will have capacities of 180,000 metric tons (aniline) and 280,000 metric tons (mononitrobenzene) and are scheduled to start operations simultaneously with the MDI expansion. The necessary construction work for these two new plants has already been largely completed.

“We expect global demand for MDI to increase and are therefore expanding our Antwerp plant to create the capacity needed to meet this strong growth,” explained Dr. Uwe Hartwig, head of the European regional business unit in BASF’s Polyurethanes division. “Through this investment we aim to further strengthen our position as a leading and reliable producer of polyurethane basic products and systems. Antwerp is an important platform to serve our MDI customers and system houses, not only in Europe, but also in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.” Antwerp is the only European site at which BASF produces MDI. Outside of Europe, BASF produces MDI at its sites in Geismar, Louisiana; Yeosu, Korea; and Caojing, China.

The isocyanate MDI is an important precursor in the manufacture of polyurethanes – versatile polymers that are used in many applications such as the automotive and construction industries, in appliances such as refrigerators, and for upholstery and footwear. BASF expects the global market for MDI to grow by an average of more than 6 percent in the coming years, with particularly strong growth in Asia. The growth is largely driven by MDI-based insulating materials that play an important role in saving valuable energy, as well as by a number of innovative applications such as SPS (sandwich plate systems) and binders to reinforce dikes (Elastocoast®).

In August 2006, BASF and its partners started up an integrated isocyanates complex at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park in Caojing, China. The company is also considering to build a further MDI plant in China that would start production in 2010 onward.

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