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January 24, 2013

Lanxess expands dichlorobenzene capacity at Leverkusen facility

Gerald Ondrey

Lanxess AG (Leverkusen, Germany; www.lanxess.com) has increased its dichlorobenzene capacity by more than 15%. It has done so by installing an additional crystallizer at the Leverkusen site, thereby enabling it to produce more high-purity p-dichlorobenzene for the global market. Some €3 million has been invested in the capacity expansion for this intermediate for the manufacture of high-performance plastics.

The Leverkusen production network of the Advanced Industrial Intermediates (AII) business unit converts toluene and benzene into chloroaromatics by adding chlorine. In addition to low chlorinated aromatics such as monochlorobenzene, this process also produces higher chlorinated aromatics such as dichlorobenzene (DCB). “Our aromatics know-how focuses primarily on demand-based isomer management and we are one of the few manufacturers worldwide to offer this capability,” states Hubert Fink, head of the Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit.

DCB production involves high-purity isolation of the isomer p-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB) from a melt in a crystallization process downstream of distillation based on cooling and solidification that takes place in crystallizers. The high-purity p-DCB obtained is used to produce the high-performance semi-crystalline plastic polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), which features excellent mechanical properties, resistance to chemicals, temperature resistance and flame retardance. PPS has applications in the electrical/electronics, automotive and aviation industries. Some 90,000 metric tons (m.t.) of p-DCB were needed for the approximately 60,000 m.t. of PPS produced worldwide in 2012.

“Based on our estimates, the market for PPS will continue to grow by 6–8% each year. We have expanded our capacity for dichlorobenzene, a very important starting material for PPS production, to grow along with our customers and ensure we are even better able to meet their requirements when it comes to reliability of supplies,” says Dirk Möckel, global marketing director Chlorobenzenes, Derivatives & Monoisocyanates in the AII business unit.

Another isomer that occurs during dichlorobenzene production is o-dichlorobenzene (o-DCB). Downstream processes at Lanxess use this to produce high-grade monoisocyanates for the production of crop protection agents for the global agricultural market, which is continuing to develop at a steady rate.

Lansess' Advanced Industrial Intermediates (AII) business unit belongs to the Advanced Intermediates segment, which achieved total sales of €1,545 million in 2011. AII has production sites in Germany (Krefeld-Uerdingen, Dormagen, Leverkusen and Brunsbüttel), China (Liyang), India (Nagda) and the U.S. (Baytown, Texas).

 

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