BASF doubles China engineering plastics compounding capacity; largest site in Asia Pacific

BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) has undertaken three capacity expansion projects for performance materials at its Pudong site in Shanghai, China for polyamide (PA), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and thermoplastics polyurethane elastomers (TPUs). The company has also undertaken an expansion of its microcellular polyurethane components capacity.

BASF estimates the Asia Pacific market for engineering plastics will grow on average by about 7% per year. This growth is driven by the increasing usage of engineering plastics in various segments, including transportation, construction, high speed railway, as well as the electrical and electronics industry. Ultramid PA and Ultradur PBT are used in automotive parts and including seat structures, oil sump modules, sensors, engine mounts, connectors and highly integrated laser-structured electronic devices.

Additionally, according to China's national New Urbanization Plan (2014-2020), with an additional 100 million people living in cities by 2020, the percentage of more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly buildings among newly constructed buildings in China will rise to 50% from 2% today. "More than 60% of China's people will live in cities by 2020," notes Albert Heuser, President, Greater China and Functions Asia Pacific, BASF. BASF recently introduced co-extrudable PBT to reinforce thermally insulated PVC window profiles, an important contributor to building energy efficiency.

The compounding plant's total capacity for PA and PET compounds has doubled from currently 45,000 to more than 100,000 tonnes per year - making it BASF's largest engineering plastics compounding facility in Asia Pacific. The expansion also includes a compounding line for specialty grades that will enable BASF to tap the burgeoning market potential for specialty applications. With this project and the new compounding plant in Yesan, Chung Nam Province, Korea, which is expected to begin operations from the end of 2015, BASF's overall compounding capacities in Asia will increase from the current 130,000 tonnes to a total of 225,000 tonnes annually. Further, the expansion of capacity for TPU in China will support growth of the rapidly growing market for textile, footwear, transportation, wire and cable sheathing and other industrial applications.

In 2013, more than 42 million cars were sold in Asia Pacific and over 20 million in China, the world's largest automotive market. The number is foreseen to increase to 33 million in China and 62 million in Asia Pacific by 2020 according to consultant LMC Automotive.

Cellasto microcellular polyurethane is said to be a customized solution for damping and reduction of the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) level of vehicles. In Asia Pacific, BASF will strengthen the technical leadership of Cellasto, based on the existing facility at BASF Pudong site, which was established in 2011 . The new investment project includes the expansion of the Cellasto Asia Pacific Technical Center, the establishment of three new production lines, and the technical improvement of existing facilities. The production capacity will be doubled after the project completion in 2015.

Cellasto components are sold to the automotive industry mainly as jounce bumpers, top mounts and coil spring isolators for suspension, as well as other NVH parts. BASF currently produces Cellasto at six sites worldwide: Lemförde, Germany, Shanghai and Nansha, China, Guaratinguetá, Brazil, Shinshiro, Japan, and Wyandotte, MI.

BASF's largest compounding facility in Asia Pacific for Ultramid polyamide and Ultradur PBT compounds started operation six months ahead of schedule.