21 January 2008 00:00 [Source: ICB]
The main use for toluene di-isocyanate (TDI), accounting for about 90% of world demand, is in flexible polyurethane (PU) foam used in furniture, mattresses and car seats. Other uses include rigid foams and adhesives, paints, concrete sealers, as a cross-linking agent for nylon 6, and as an intermediate in PU coatings and elastomers. The main form is an 80:20 mix of the 2,4 and 2,6-isomers.
The TDI market started to recover in 2006 after a long and low-priced market in 2005. More than 225,000 tonnes/year of capacity closed during 2005 in the US at Bayer, Huntsman and Lyondell. Dow Chemical shut its plant in Porto Marghera, Italy, in August 2006.
Producers say supply in Europe was tight in 2007 and no change is expected in 2008. Demand has been robust, with markets in Eastern Europe and the Middle East also performing well. Growth last year in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was expected to reach 4-5%. Buyers are less optimistic for 2008, citing concerns that reduced consumer confidence will affect demand.
Snug supply pushed up prices in Europe in 2007 and producers are achieving rises again in January. Suppliers were seeking an extra €200/tonne but have agreed to hikes of €50-100/tonne, taking January contracts to €2,755-2,905/tonne. Margins have improved for some, but are still being eroded by rising energy and record toluene costs.
The main route is the nitration of toluene to dinitrotoluene, followed by catalytic hydrogenation to toluene diamine, which 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, avoiding the use of phosgene and the waste recovery problems associated with hydrogen chloride. One-step processes based on the reaction between dinitrotoluene and carbon monoxide have been developed but not commercialized.
Bayer has developed technology that carries out phosgenation in the gas, rather than liquid, phase, reducing solvents use by 80%, energy by 40% and investment costs by 20%. Producers are focusing development efforts on reducing costs and increasing plant size.
World demand will grow by 3-4%/year, with the strongest growth in Asia, mainly China. Western Europe will grow at GDP rates, but will be higher in Central/Eastern Europe and the Middle East/Africa. Supply in Europe is tipped to stay tight until 2011. BorsodChem will start up a 160,000 tonne/year plant in Hungary in 2009, with output destined for new markets.
Bayer has upped planned capacity of its new gas-phase plant in China to 300,000 tonnes/year. Start-up is due in 2010. BASF and Dow Chemical are studying a 300,000 tonne/year plant in Europe for 2011. Smaller projects are planned in China, India and Taiwan for 2009 and onwards.
GLOBAL TDI CAPACITY,'000 TONNES/YEAR
|BASF||Geismar, Louisiana, US||160|
|Yosu, South Korea||160|
|Bayer MaterialScience||Baytown, Texas, US||200|
|China National Blue Star||Taiyuan, China||30|
|DC Chemical||Kunsan, South Korea||50|
|Dow Chemical||Freeport, Texas, US||105|
|Gansu Yinguang TDI||Baiyin, China||50|
|Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers||Bharuch, India||16|
|Hebei Cangzhou Dahua||Cangzhou, China||30|
|Isopol Produtos Quimicos||Camacari, Brazil||65|
|Korea Fine Chemical||Yosu, South Korea||100|
|Lyondell||Pont de Claix, France||125|
|Mitsui Chemicals Polyurethanes||Kashima, Japan||120|
|Nan Ya Plastics||Mailiao, Taiwan||30|
|Nippon Polyur-ethane Industry||Nanyo, Japan||25|
|Petroquimica Rio Tercero||Rio Tercero, Argentina||28|
|Shanghai BASF Polyurethane||Caojing, China||160|
|Shanghai Wusong Chemical General||Shanghai, China||40|
|Yantai Juli Isocyanate||Laiyang, China||20|
|Zaklady Chemiczne Zachem||Bydgoszcz, Poland||40|
Profile last published June 21, 2004
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