1,4-Butanediol

15 August 2005 00:01  [Source: ICB Americas]

Producer                                             Capacity*

BASF, Geismar, La. 300
Invista, LaPorte, Tex. 245
International Specialty Products, Lima, Ohio 145
Lyondell, Channelview, Tex. 120
Total 810

*Millions of pounds per year of 1,4-butanediol (BDO). There are a number of process technologies available for the production of BDO. The traditional method is the Reppe process, in which acetylene is reacted with formaldehyde. Lyondell Chemical employs a three-step conversion of propylene oxide, developed in conjunction with Kuraray (Japan). The newest processes use maleic anhydride or n-butane as starting points. BP Chemicals with Lurgi developed an integrated butane-to-butanediol process, which is employed at Lima, Ohio. Called the Geminox process, it combines BP’s process for the catalytic oxidation of butane in air using a fluidized bed with Lurgi’s fixed-bed fatty acid hydrogenation technology.

In 2001, ISP discontinued production of butanediol at the company’s Texas City, Tex. plant. Installed capacity was rated at 65 million pounds. ISP had previously closed a 55 million pound plant at Calvert City, Ky.

Invista is the former DuPont Textiles & Interiors business, which was sold to Koch Industries in May of 2004 and combined with KoSa, Koch’s polyester and intermediates subsidiary.

In 1999, BASF added 20 million pounds to its unit in Geismar, La.

Profile last published 6/23/03;this revision 8/16/05.

DEMAND

2003: 850 million pounds; 2004: 900 million pounds; 2008: 1,055 million pounds, projected. Demand equals production plus imports, less exports. Trade data on 1,4-butanediol is not reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce but it is estimated that 200 million pounds are imported and 30 million exported yearly.

 

GROWTH

Historical (1999–2004): 5.0 percent per year; future: 4.0 percent per year through 2008.

PRICE

Historical (1999–2004): High, $1.25 per pound, list, tanks, f.o.b., frt. equald.; low, $1.00 per pound, same basis; Current: $1.36 per pound, same basis.

 

USES

Tetrahydrofuran (THF), 51 percent; polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resins, 20 percent; gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), 20 percent; polyurethanes, 5 percent; miscellaneous, including uses as a solvent, a coating-resin raw material, and in chemical and pharmaceutical production, 4 percent.

MARKET PERSPECTIVE

About 65 percent is used captively, as all US makers are forward-integrated into its derivatives. Half of the remaining production is under long-term contracts, and the remainder is supplied to the merchant market. The BDO chain has three main branches—tetrahydrofuran derivatives, polybutylene terephthalate resins, and gamma-butyrolactone derivatives.

Tetrahydrofuran (THF) is the largest end use for 1,4-butanediol, accounting for 51 percent of total BDO consumption.

Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resins take 20 percent of BDO. These resins are high-performance, high-molecular-weight polymers that are ultimately consumed in the automotive industry and in electrical/electronics components and parts.

Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) derivatives consume another 20 percent of BDO. About 65 percent of GBL is used for the manufacture of N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), which in turn is used as a solvent in lube oil extraction, electronics applications, paint strippers, magnetic wire coatings and engineering resins.

The build-up of new capacity during the mid-1990s resulted in an oversupply. Strong derivative demand and more cost-effective production routes attracted producers, but caused BDO prices to fall by 50 percent.

OUTLOOK

In the past decade BDO demand enjoyed an average growth rate of nearly 4.5 percent per year. Although its big end uses are becoming mature industries, BDO is still turning in better-than-GDP growth. As the industry is shifting away from the acetylene-based Reppe process to cheaper routes using propylene, butadiene, or butane as the principal feed material, improved process economics will translate into improved operating margins for manufacturers. With domestic supply in balance to tight, and with no BDO capacity additions under way in the US, imported product will become even more important over the forecast period. BDO demand is projected to grow 4 percent through 2008.









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