Product profile: TDI

22 July 2002 00:00  [Source: ICB]

European demand slowed last year but is starting to improve. Some plant closures are expected due to lower market growth
 
Uses

Toluene diisocyanate's (TDI) main outlet, with over 90% of world consumption, is in the production of flexible polyurethane foam used in furniture, buildings and transportation. Smaller uses are rigid foams, adhesives, paints, concrete sealers, as a cross-linking agent for nylon 6, and as an intermediate to make polyurethane coatings and polyurethane elastomers. The main form is an 80:20 mix of the 2,4 and 2,6 isomers.

Supply/demand

Total world production was 1.27m tonne last year, with European production of 325 000 tonne 2% up on 2000, said Tecnon OrbiChem. European consumption was up 1.8% over 2000, with moderate growth seen in the furniture sector but a decrease in car production, particularly in the second half.

Demand in Europe for the first five months of 2002 is estimated to be down by 1.6% compared with 2001 but is expected to improve in the second half with growth of 1-1.5% predicted for 2002. Supply in Europe is tight as unexpected problems and shutdowns at several players have affected output. No relief is expected until the fourth quarter at least. Poor profitability has forced rationalisation. Early this year, Dow Chemical closed a line in the US, cancelled plans to convert a mothballed line in Brazil and idled its Brindisi unit.

Pricing

European prices came under pressure from low demand and weakened throughout 2001 and early 2002. Numbers moved up slightly in April/May to the current range of E1.80-1.90/kg. Margins have dropped significantly and producers say prices are not compensating for feedstock increases and are below reinvestment levels. Dow has announced a E300/tonne rise from 1 September, and other suppliers are expected to raise prices in the next few months.

Technology

The main route is the dinitration of toluene to dinitrotoluene followed by catalytic hydrogenation to diaminotoluene either as the 2,4- or 2,6-isomer or a mix of the two. The diaminotoluene is dissolved in an inert solvent and reacted with phosgene to produce a crude TDI solution. TDI can be produced directly from dinitrotoluene by liquid phase carbonylation with o-dichlorobenzene. This route avoids the use of phosgene and hydrogen chloride waste recovery problems. One-step processes based on the reaction between dinitroluene and carbon monoxide have been developed but not commercialised.

Health and safety

TDI is a white to pale yellow liquid or crystals with a pungent odour. It is soluble in aromatic and chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons, ether, acetone and esters. It reacts with water, ammonia and alcohols with the evolution of carbon dioxide and oxidising agents. Heat or contamination may cause containers to explode. It is combustible and toxic fumes are given off in a fire. It is a severe skin and eye irritant, and affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

Outlook

Producers are actively looking at further plant closures with the small, non-integrated units expected to shut down, bringing capacity more in line with market growth. World growth this year is tipped at 2.5-3%. Post 2003, growth in Europe is put at about 2.5%/year and 3.5-4%/year worldwide.

BASF will start up a 140000 tonne/year plant at Yosu, South Korea, in 2003, and is installing a 130000 tonne/year unit in Caojing, China, in a joint venture with local partners. Bayer also has plans for a plant at Caojing. China is the world's fastest growing consumer of polyurethanes and demand for TDI is tipped to rise from the current 218000 tonne/year to 299000 tonne in 2005, and 482000 tonne in 2010.

Information is based on data from Tecnon OrbiChem which is being updated for its forthcoming Isocyanates World Survey

Major global TDI capacity, '000 tonne/year

Company Location Capacity
Europe
BASF Schwarzheide, Germany 70
Bayer Brunsbttel, Germany 60
Dormagen, Germany 65
Leverkusen, Germany 40
Tarragona, Spain 18
Borsodchem Kazincbarcika, Hungary 60
Dow Chemical Porto Marghera, Italy 110
Rhodia Pont de Claix, France* 120
Shell Antwerp, Belgium 30
Zaklady Chemiczne
Zachem
Bydgoszcz, Poland 40
US
BASF Geismar, Louisiana 160
Bayer Baytown, Texas 180
New Martinsville,
West Virginia 50
Dow Chemical Freeport, Texas 165
Lyondell Lake Charles, Louisiana 136
Rubicon Geismar, Louisiana 36
Asia
China National
Blue Star Chemical
Cleaning
Shanxi, China 30
DC Chemical Kunsan, South Korea 45
Hebei Cangzhou
Dahua
Cangzhou, China 20
Hindustan
Organic
Raigad, India 10
Korea Fine
Chemical
Yosu, South Korea 66
Mitsui Takeda
Chemicals
Kashima, Japan 55
Omuta, Japan 128
Nan Ya Plastics Mailiao, Taiwan 100
Narmada Chematur
Petrochemicals
Bharuch, India 10
Nippon Polyurethane
Industry
Nanyo, Japan 25
Sumika Bayer
Urethane
Shin Nanyo, Japan 13
Taiyuan Chemical
Industry
Taiyuan, China 20

*output marketed by Lyondell
Source: Tecnon OrbiChem, ECN




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