Evonik Starts C4 Plants with New Technology

Chemical producer Evonik has started up new production plants for C4-based products at its Marl Chemical Park in Germany, using new technology that leverages flexible feedstock supply from the BP refinery at Gelsenkirchen, about 15 km away.

“With the expansion, we are sustainably strengthening our market position,” said CEO Klaus Engel, adding that the arrangement with BP demonstrates the innovative strength of companies in Germany’s Ruhr area and their willingness to securing the region’s strong industrial base.

For the process, which Evonik has labeled a “technological milestone,” the chemical producer is drawing FCC-C4 material streams from fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) through a pipeline and later will return byproducts it cannot use to BP by the same route.

The project emphasizes the significance of mineral oil processing for the supply chains of the chemical industry and is a good example for a cross-company cooperation that strengthens competitiveness, said Frédéric Baudry, the BP Europa executive board member responsible for the company’s petrochemical business.

Johann-Caspar Gammelin, CEO of Evonik Performance Materials, said the new technology “significantly expands” the Essen-based company’s raw material base, providing access to raw-material streams that so far have not been used for downstream chemical processing. While steam or naphtha crackers up are the usual production base for petrochemicals, tapping the larger number of FCC crackers existing worldwide provides additional flexibility, he said.

Evonik’s new German facilities, representing total investment in the triple-digit million euro range, are part of its Europe-wide capacity expansion for C4-based products, of which the company is a major producer. In addition to the expansion in Marl, the company has also invested in its C4 activities at Antwerp, Belgium, where new production facilities went on stream in the second quarter of 2015.

The new European plants add capability for the plasticizer alcohol isononanol at Marl, butadiene at Antwerp and the fuel additive MTBE at both Marl and Antwerp.

Citing market analyses showing global demand for the products growing by up to 5% annually, Gammelin said the investments support the growth plans of Evonik’s customers in Europe and worldwide.

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