BASF TDI Plant Goes Down Again

25.11.2016 -

Problems with its new EUR 1 billion TDI complex at Ludwigshafen, Germany, continue to plague BASF. On Nov. 23, the world’s largest chemical producer said the facility with nameplate capacity to produce 300,0000 t/y of the polyurethane feedstock had to be taken off line again due to an unspecified technical defect. The mammoth production complex, inaugurated almost exactly a year ago, has still not reached full run. Altogether it consists of eight separate plants that, among other things, produce precursors for the isocyanate. Each unit had to be individually started up, the group said earlier this year, explaining why the technical issues are so complex.

In its statement announcing this week’s breakdown, BASF said the impacted equipment in the closed safety chamber of the TDI complex will be analyzed and, if necessary, replaced. Before the plant is restarted, the group said it will “reexamine all relevant parts” in cooperation with the respective authorities. Authorities in the German state of Rhineland Palatine have already inspected the production site following a series of glitches this year, including the accidental release of nitrogen oxide and phosgene.

Since last month, the Ludwigshafen site has faced numerous production outages and BASF had to declare force majeure for several products after the Oct. 17 fire and explosion killed four people. Authorities and BASF are investigating this incident separately. The market for TDI in Europe remains tight, independently of the problem at BASF.