By Liz White, UT contributing editorMidland, Michigan-Dow Chemical Co. and BASF AG are commercialising their new HPPO technology, which uses hydrogen peroxide to make propylene oxide (PO). The two chemical majors will construct a world-scale HPPO plant at BASF’s site in Antwerp, Belgium, with initial capacity of 30 kilotonnes. Construction is due to start in 2006, with the plant expected on stream in 2008. The plant “will serve the growing demand for PO derivatives, in particular in the polyurethane industry,” said a statement on the plans. HPPO technology produces only the end product, PO, and water, with no by-products. Another advantage is that HPPO plants have a smaller footprint, need less infrastructure, and require a significantly lower investment than conventional PO production processes, the companies claim. BASF and Dow combined their research efforts in this field in July 2003. The results, “which have exceeded the high expectations, are available for commercial use to both parties,” the firms added. The partners expressed their satisfaction with the project in the press statement: “Dow is very pleased with the joint development effort with BASF and the resultant improvements made to HPPO Technology,” commented Mike Gambrell, Dow’s senior vice president for chemicals and intermediates. “The final process design is better than the early stage HPPO processes of both companies and shows the advantages of this collaboration,” he added.And, for BASF, “The joint development of the HPPO technology together with Dow has been very successful. Now we are going to start the commercialisation jointly,” said John Feldmann, a BASF board member. As well as its use to make polyurethanes, propylene oxide is used to make propylene glycol, chemical intermediates, flame retardants, synthetic lubricants, oilfield drilling chemicals and textile surfactants.”
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