New aniline factory in Antwerp to respond to rising demand for insulation materials

Posted on 2 Nov 2022

Aniline is the basic raw material for MDI or methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, used for making foam, and the basis for polyurethane foam for insulation materials. “Due to the European Green Deal and the high energy prices, the demand for efficient insulation has seen a sharp rise. We are assuming this means that the demand for aniline and MDI will grow by an average of 6 percent in the coming years.”

World leader in the production of polyurethane

This is according to Klaus Schaefer, Head of Technology at Covestro worldwide, in a response to the newspaper De Tijd when the first earth was turned for a new aniline factory at the port of Antwerp. Covestro had been part of the German chemical giant Bayer for some time, but is now a separate business. As it happens, Covestro invented polyurethane and is a world leader in its production. Covestro's new aniline factory is set to be operational at the port of Antwerp by 2025. This will replace the current production unit, thereby doubling production capacity.

Rising demand

This increased production capacity is more than welcome. The current energy crisis will not only give a much needed boost to the further roll-out of renewable energy, but is also causing us to realise that insulation is an essential component in terms of energy savings. This demand for aniline and MDI will only rise further, by an average of 6% on an annual basis. The new facility in Antwerp will export aniline to production factories in Germany and Spain, where MDI will be manufactured.

CO2-research

Covestro is also doing its bit in the battle against CO2 emissions. For example, Covestro is helping to work on a European research project to see how polyurethane can be produced as an insulation material based on intermediate products from converted CO2 flows. A study is also underway into how more than 90% of the waste from flexible and rigid foam can be reused through the use of new technologies.

And finally, it is the intention with the new factory in Antwerp to reduce the CO2 emissions from the local site, by doubling the steam from the process heat. This is because around 20% of the steam requirement will be covered by the use of that process heat from production, supplemented by steam based on natural gas.

Source: De Tijd

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