Maastricht, Netherlands – Wanhua is broadening its scope and continues to develop innovative MDI technology.
Those were key points from Peter Huo, vice president of Wanhua Chemical, speaking on the fringes of the UTECH Europe 2018 exhibition at the end of May. Huo turned first to the recently announced MDI capacity hike and technology behind it at Yantai, Shandong.
‘Over the past 20 years the company has put in a lot of effort to improve technology,’ Huo explained.
‘Very few companies in isocyanate production have spent money like us over the years. Process improvement and efficiency has always been our focus. We believe we have the latest version of very advanced technology. This gives us an advantage. Minimum incremental capex can give us a sizeable increase in capacity.
‘The bulk of the plant stays intact. The efficiencies are elsewhere, in chemical flow, in reaction efficiency,’ he said.
Huo added that Wanhua has no plans to license the technology.
In the US, Wanhua announced its intention to build capacity for MDI on the Gulf coast in late 2015. Huo was tight lipped about progress towards an agreement, but industry watchers suggest that a production announcement could be due towards the end of 2021 or mid 2022. If this is true, it will place the start up around a year later than was originally planned back in 2015.
Huo was more expansive about the recent announcement that Wanhua was going to back-integrate to ethylene.
‘Being able to access ethylene value chain will help us in a number of ways,’ he said. ‘We are going to have ethylene oxide for polyols, we are going to have PVC to take care of hydrochloric acid to close the chain. Polyurethane and polypropylene certainly are products that we may have to get into, because of ethylene.’
Huo added that the company has a materials portfolio, as well as wet chemistry intermediates. ‘Wanhua has three arms urethanes, specialties – including aliphatics, amines and some downstream, then we have the new materials such as PMMA and PC,’ he said.