MOSCOW (MRC) -- Covestro AG (Leverkusen, Germany) broke ground in Antwerp, Belgium for a new world-scale production facility for the manufacture of aniline, said the company.
With the Covestro breaks ground in Antwerp for new aniline plant. At the same time, by using state-of-the-art technology, we are increasing the energy efficiency of production and thereby the competitiveness of the Antwerp site,” says Dr. Klaus Schafer, Chief Technology Officer at Covestro. Dr. Georg Wagner, Covestro Site Manager in Antwerp, sees the investment as a crucial step into the future: “The groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of our aniline production is an important moment for our site. The expansion of aniline production is part of Covestro’s global MDI strategy.
Covestro AG (Leverkusen, Germany) broke ground in Antwerp, Belgium for a new world-scale production facility for the manufacture of aniline. With the capacity expansion, the company is strengthening its European production network for the foam component MDI. For this purpose, Covestro is investing more than €300 million. The plant is scheduled to be operational – depending on the volatile economic situation – in early 2025. This will create around 40 new jobs.
The basic chemical aniline is an important starting material for many chemical products, including the rigid foam component MDI. The product is mainly used for the production of insulation materials for buildings and refrigeration equipment. Due to the global trend towards sustainability and climate neutrality, the global MDI market is expected to grow by around six percent per year in the medium term. Given the current high electricity and gas prices, especially in Europe, demand for efficient insulation is likely to further increase.
“Even in challenging times, we must not lose sight of our goals. With the expansion of our aniline production, we are addressing the further increase in demand from our customers for energy-efficient solutions for the insulation of buildings and refrigeration appliances. At the same time, by using state-of-the-art technology, we are increasing the energy efficiency of production and thereby the competitiveness of the Antwerp site,” says Dr. Klaus Schafer, Chief Technology Officer at Covestro.
Dr. Georg Wagner, Covestro Site Manager in Antwerp, sees the investment as a crucial step into the future: “The groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of our aniline production is an important moment for our site. The capacity expansion will enable us to continue to ensure the sustainable and efficient supply of our MDI network in Europe. In doing so, we will continue to draw on the attractive infrastructure and logistics at the heart of the port, from where we also have direct access to the raw materials we need. This investment further anchors us here in Antwerp and also creates sustainable jobs for the future."
For policymakers in Antwerp, Covestro’s capacity expansion is making a positive contribution to development in the region. “Belgium is the second most important export country for chemistry and life sciences within the European Union after Germany. The sector of chemistry and life sciences is today one of the most important industries in Flanders and heavily invests in R&D and innovation. Last year alone 2.6 billion euro or more than half of all the industrial investments in innovation in Flanders were announced in this sector. Today is another milestone in this respect”, explains Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Flanders region.
The new plant will use state-of-the-art technologies that will help to significantly increase the energy efficiency of production in Antwerp. Currently, around 20 percent of the steam required on site is covered by using process heat generated during production. The remaining steam is generated using fossil resources. With the commissioning of the new plant, the share of steam generated from process heat will double to 40 percent of local demand, and the use of fossil fuels will decline. The potential savings correspond to up to 27,000 tons of CO emissions per year. The new plant thus makes an important contribution to achieving Covestro’s goal of being operationally climate-neutral by 2035.
The expansion of aniline production is part of Covestro’s global MDI strategy. The aim is to strengthen the production network for MDI in view of a further increase in demand. In Brunsbuttel, Germany, Covestro already commissioned a new plant for the production of MDI using the particularly energy-efficient AdiP technology in 2020. In Tarragona, Spain, a new chlorine production plant based on the likewise particularly energy-saving ODC technology is nearing completion.
We remind, Covestro has now received the internationally recognized ISCC Plus mass balance certification for its Leverkusen and Dormagen sites. Together with the Krefeld-Uerdingen site, which was already certified a year ago, the company can now supply its customers with large product volumes from renewably attributed raw materials from all three Lower Rhine sites in Germany. These are selected polycarbonates, components for polyurethane (PU) rigid and flexible foams, PU coating and adhesive raw materials, thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) and specialty films. They are characterized by equally good quality and properties as their fossil-based counterparts.