Building In Brazil | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 1, 2011

Building In Brazil

Petrochemicals: BASF facility includes first acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers plants in South America
Department: ACS News
Keywords: BASF, Brazil

BASF plans to spend $720 million to build a world-scale complex to produce acrylic acid, butyl acrylate, and superabsorbent polymers in Camaçari, Bahia, Brazil. The facility will include the first acrylic acid and superabsorbents plants in South America and will be the largest single investment BASF has made in its century long history in South America, the firm says.

In addition, BASF also plans to make 2-ethyl-hexyl acrylate, a raw material for adhesives and coatings, at its existing chemical site in Guaratinguetá, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The firm already makes butyl acrylate from imported acrylic acid at the Guaratinguetá site.

Acrylic acid is a precursor for superabsorbent polymers used to make baby diapers, and acrylic esters used to make adhesives, construction chemicals, and architectural coatings. The firm currently has acrylic acid and derivatives plants in Europe, Asia, and North America. Competitors include Arkema, Dow Chemical, LG Chem, and Jiangsu Jurong Chemical.

The decision to add the acrylic acid complex follows a feasibility study the company undertook beginning in March (C&EN, March 14, page 22). The study revived earlier plans for the project dropped in 2003 because BASF couldn’t justify the investment then.

However, the economics have now changed. “Due to the strong growth in Brazil, the time has come for this important investment,” says Stefan Marcinowski a member of the BASF Board of Executive Directors. “It will further strengthen our position and underlines our confidence in the development of the South American market.”

Construction of the acrylic acid complex will begin later this year with production scheduled to start in late 2014. Brazilian petrochemical maker Braskem will supply feedstock propylene and utilities. The 2-ethyl-hexyl acrylate unit will start up in 2015.

“Assuming the projects go ahead, BASF will have a significant first mover advantage in the region,” says Ian Davenport, president of consulting firm Davenport International Associates. “They will also make BASF the first company to be truly global in acrylic acid and derivatives.”

 
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