European chemical profile: TDI

09 August 2010 00:00  [Source: ICB]

USES
Toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) is mainly used in flexible polyurethane (PU) foam which has outlets in upholstery, mattresses and automotive seats.

Other uses include rigid foams and adhesives, paints, concrete sealers, and as a cross-­linking agent for nylon 6 and intermediate in PU coatings and elastomers.

SUPPLY/DEMAND
Demand in Europe has picked up significantly in 2010, mostly driven by markets in Central and Eastern Europe. A European buyer estimated that demand was down by 8-10% in 2009.

Demand into the mattress and upholstery sectors has picked up pretty well and the automotive sector has been good with sales of premium vehicles and exports compensating for the end of government scrappage schemes.

However, players report that ongoing polyol shortages, the coproduct in foam production, is capping demand for TDI. Supply is said to be fairly balanced.

Sweden's Perstorp bought the French plant from Lyondell Chimie in July 2008. China's Wanhua Industrial Group has bought a 38% stake in Hungary's BorsodChem, with the option for a full takeover within two years.

PRICES
Most European contracts rolled over this month as bi-monthly settlements were agreed for July and August at €2,150-2,250/tonne. July fell by €20-50/tonne from June, reflecting the holidays and reduced buying interest.

Prices in the Middle East and African markets were stabilizing after recent price erosion from cheaper Asian imports. European suppliers reported prices in the region at $2,700-$2,800/tonne CFR, while prices of Asian ­material had stabilized between $2,500-2,600/tonne CFR.

TECHNOLOGY
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 also be produced directly from dinitrotoluene by liquid-phase carbonylation with o-dichlorobenzene.

One-step processes based on the reaction between dinitrotoluene and carbon monoxide have been developed but not commercialized. Germany's Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) has developed a route that carries out phosgenation in the gas rather than liquid phase (see page 30).

OUTLOOK
Future growth in Europe including Russia is put at 2-3%/year, driven by Central and Eastern Europe markets. Western Europe growth is put at around GDP rates.

New investment is focused mostly in China. BMS is due to finish a 250,000 tonne/year plant in Shanghai at the end of 2010 and domestic producers plan extra capacity in 2011-2012. India's Narmada Chematur Petrochemicals will expand its plant by late 2011.

In Europe, BMS will bring on stream in 2014 a 300,000 tonne/year plant in Dormagen, Germany, replacing existing units there and in Brunsbuttel. Further investment in Europe is said to be unfeasible at present.

GLOBAL TDI CAPACITY, '000 TONNES/YEAR
Company Location Capacity
BASF Geismar, ­Louisiana, US 160
Schwarzheide, ­Germany 80
Yosu, South Korea 160
Bayer Baytown, Texas, US 200
Brunsbüttel, ­Germany 135
Dormagen, Germany 65
BorsodChem Kazincbarcika, ­Hungary 90
China National Blue Star Taiyuan, China 30
Gansu Yinguang TDI Baiyin, China 80
Hebei Cangzhou Dahua Cangzhou, China 80
Isopol Produtos Quimicos Camacari, Brazil 65
KPX Fine Chemical Yosu, South Korea 100
Mitsui Chemicals Kashima, Japan 120
Omuta, Japan 130
Nan Ya Plastics Mailiao, Taiwan 30
Narmada Chematur Petrochemicals Bharuch, India 14
Nippon ­Polyurethane Industry Nanyo, Japan 25
OCI Company Kunsan, South Korea 50
Perstorp Pont de Claix, France 125
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 75
Source: ICIS

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