BASF to Increase Capacities for Acrylic Acid and Superabsorbent Polymers

BASF plans to increase its existing production capacities for acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers (SAP) in Antwerp and for butylacrylate in Ludwigshafen. BASF cites major expansion of its European business as the reason for the extensions. "The decision came in response to existing as well as new long-term supplier agreements, in most cases with strategic customers. Contracts are already in place covering the greater part of the sales volume for the additional quantities," said Dr. Markus Kramer, head of the Functional Polymers division. "The aim of our business model and of the current investment program is to support customer growth and promote innovations."

BASF intends to use latest technology to improve its competitiveness and strengthen its global market leadership in this area.

The plans involve increasing the capacity of the existing SAP plant at the Antwerp site from the current figure of 115,000 metric tons to 175,000 metric tons annually. Capacity for the precursor acrylic acid will be extended as a result. A second plant with a capacity of 160,000 metric tons is to be built to back the existing acrylic acid plant. The additional acrylic acid produced will be needed for SAP production in Antwerp and will supply additional volumes for Ludwigshafen as part of the European integrated production system: Plans to expand the capacity of the existing butylacrylate plant in Ludwigshafen will cause increased demand for the precursor, acrylic acid. The new capacities will be available by 2008 at the latest.

Acrylic acid is the main precursor in the production of superabsorbent polymers, materials which absorb many times their own weight in liquid and are mainly used in diapers and other hygienic products. Other acrylic acid derivatives are pure acrylate dispersions of the kind used for binders in varnishes and paints, and acrylic acid ester, also known as acrylate. These monomeric building blocks are used to manufacture the polymer dispersions contained as a functional component in architectural coatings, glues, fiber binders, products for the construction chemicals industry and coatings for the paper industry.

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