Degussa/DuPont unveil German PDO facility


Degussa and DuPont have officially opened their 9000 tonne/year 1,3-propanediol (PDO) plant at Wesseling near Cologne, Germany.

The plant is being run by Degussa under a cooperative agreement with DuPont and it uses Degussa's acrolein technology, acquired by DuPont in April. The plant, designed and started up this summer by Degussa, is committed to supply DuPont with PDO for the production of polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT).

'Working together, we have successfully demonstrated the world's first economic industrial scale process for the production of PDO, using the technology developed by Degussa and sold to DuPont in April this year,' said Degussa executive vice president Klaus Hentschel. In agreement with DuPont, Degussa will continue to sell PDO along with its other polyols worldwide into other markets like fine chemicals and coatings.

DuPont has no immediate plans to build a larger PDO plant based on Degussa's acrolein technology, said a DuPont spokeswoman. 'The company is waiting to see what the market will demand but our experience thus far at Wesseling demonstrates that the technology is proven and can be scaled up when demand requires,' she said.

'DuPont has continued to develop applications in numerous markets for its new PDO-based family of polymers,' she added. The PDO-based polymers offer improved properties in resiliency and stretch recovery compared with polyesters, according to DuPont. PTT can be produced on existing redundant polyester production lines.

DuPont is also developing a biological route to PDO in collaboration with Genencor. A recent study by Chem Systems (ECN 16 November) found that the biotechnology-based route to convert corn starch-derived glucose into PDO has the potential to be cost competitive with petrochemical processes.