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Bayer to build new aniline plant in Antwerp

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 30 November, 2004  (Company News)
Bayer MaterialScience plans to build a new aniline production plant in Antwerp, Belgium. It is to have a capacity of 50,000 tons/year and reach completion in early 2006. An innovative process will be used for the first time, which above all cuts investment and manufacturing costs.
The construction work is scheduled to begin shortly. “With the new plant, we want to underline not only our market leadership, but most importantly our technology leadership in the field of polyurethane raw materials,” says Dr. Tony Van Osselaer, member of Bayer MaterialScience AG Board of Management and responsible for Production & Technology.

The new facility will be in the immediate vicinity of an existing aniline plant in Antwerp, the capacity of which is likewise to be increased by 25,000 tons/year to reach 165,000 tons/year by the end of 2005. The total investment for both projects amounts to some EUR 20 million. Aniline is required for the manufacture of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) – a key chemical component in the production of polyurethane foams and elastomers. Rigid insulating foams, for example, are used in refrigerators and freezers, or as thermal insulation in the building industry and district heating pipes. Elastomers are used in the footwear, automotive and electrical industries.

'Worldwide demand for MDI is currently higher than the supply. As a consequence, the demand for aniline is rising at a similar rate. We need the aniline from Antwerp to go ahead with our plans to expand MDI capacities in Europe,' says Peter Vanacker, head of the Polyurethanes Business Unit at Bayer MaterialScience. Bayer previously announced its intention to expand capacities at plants in Tarragona (Spain), Baytown (USA) and Brunsbüttel (Germany) by a total of some 140,000 tons/year by 2006. Vanacker: “To underscore our position as market leader, we will then have a global MDI capacity of more than a million tons.”

The investment announcement is also a positive sign for Bayer's Antwerp site, which has undergone extensive realignment over the last few years and will now become a key strategic location for Bayer MaterialScience: “We are very pleased to have been selected for the new facility. Strong arguments in our favor include the cost-efficient manufacturing of aniline in Antwerp and the extensive experience of our employees,” says Rene de Cleyn, head of the Bayer Industrial Park in Antwerp.
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