Evonik Plasticiser Alcohol 2-PH Plant, Germany

Germany-based Evonik Industries commissioned its plasticiser alcohol 2-propyl heptanol (2-PH) plant in October 2009 to fulfil the growing demand for high-molecular-weight PVC plasticisers.

"The plant will help Evonik improve its C4 product manufacturing capabilities."

The plant, located in the Marl Chemical Park, Germany, has an annual capacity of 60,000mt and started operating towards the end of 2009. The company's investment in the plant is estimated to be in the high double-digit million Euro range.

The plant will help Evonik increase its product range of high-molecular-weight plasticiser alcohols. It will also help in developing attractive and competitive plastics products.

With the commissioning of the plant, Evonik became the biggest manufacturer of C9/C10 alcohols in Europe. Construction of the plant generated 12 jobs in Marl.

Plasticiser alcohol 2-PH plant

The plant added the new product 2-PH to Evonik's range. 2-PH complements another product, oxo alcohol isononanol (INA), and expand the company's applications. The plant also helps Evonik improve its C4 product manufacturing capabilities in Marl.

Evonik processes about 1.5mt of crude C4 annually at the Marl facility to produce C4 olefins and C4 derivatives, such as methyl tertiary butyl ether, butene-1, isobutene, butadiene and isononanol.

Evonik's production capacity is about 80% of the crack C4 available on the European market. The company already has a capacity of 340,000mt of C9 INA at its Marl plant, which is the biggest INA plant in the world.

Evonik also produces another PVC plasticiser, VESTINOL9, at a capacity of 220,000mt/y at Marl.

Process technology incorporated at Evonik Industries' facility

During crude oil processing, crude C4 is produced in a steam cracker as a by-product in the cracking of naphtha (light gasoline) to ethylene and propylene. The C4 produced is isolated for further processing.

The isolated crude C4 is transformed by Evonik's Marl production network into C4 olefins and C4 derivatives such as 1-butene, isobutene, n-butane, isobutane, antiknock additive MTBE, INA and plasticiser di-isononyl phthalate (DINP).

Evonik's integrated production system for C4 is characterised by optimal product yield. Each hydrocarbon molecule existing in crack C4 is utilised, resulting in 100% added value.

Evonik partners with well-known research organisations such as the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis in Germany to improve the manufacturing process for C4 products. Through such collaborations the company develops catalysts with improved and new properties.

Importance of 2-PH as a raw material

2-PH is an important raw material used in the manufacture of PVC plasticisers. The addition of 2-PH to PVC converts it from a brittle plastic into a flexible substance. Plasticised PVC produced using 2-PH is used to manufacture cable insulation, tarpaulin fabrics, floor coatings, films and car parts.

Market growth

The demand for plasticised PVC is about 12mt/y with an annual growth rate of 4%. The highest demand for plasticisers comes from Asia and Europe.

"Evonik is planning to expand its production capacity of plasticisers."

Due to the versatile and cost-effective nature of PVC, worldwide future growth is expected to increase by 3% to 4% annually.

Due to changes in technical and environmental requirements for the use of plasticised PVC, high-molecular-weight plasticisers based on C9 or C10 alcohols are in high demand. Plasticisers such as 2-PH that have ten carbon atoms are preferred.

These plasticisers are highly versatile and have good low-temperature properties, low volatility and low viscosity. High-molecular-weight plasticisers have also been declared risk-free following EU tests.

Future expansion projects for Evonik

Evonik is planning to expand its production capacity of plasticisers in the near future. In addition to the new 2-PH plant, Evonik plans to triple isobutene capacity.

The company also built a new isobutene plant with an annual capacity of 110,000mt in Antwerp, Belgium. It was started-up in April 2011.