Zietz Saxony, Germany

The project consists of an adipic acid plant, a cyclohexanol/cyclohexanone plant and a nitric acid plant in Zeitz, Germany. Zeitz is about 40km south of Leipzig in Saxony. The adipic acid and the nitric acid plants will each have a capacity of about 80,000t/yr. Radici is said to be also considering an investment of Deutsch Mark 200 million in a carpet fibre plant at the site.

The new plants have been built on the site of the former hydrogenation plant called Hydrierwerk in Zeitz, regenerating a rundown area. It is hoped that the site could attract other industrial plants over time. The plants are in a key position to supply bith North and East European markets.

The total cost of the project will be about Deutsch Mark 330 million ($196 million). Construction at the Zeitz site began in the third quarter of 1998. The adipic acid plant was completed in August 2001, and began production later that month. Infrazeitz is the local company providing the infrastructure, water, steam and gases, and treatment of the waste. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the adipic and the nitric acid plants has been awarded to Krupp Uhde. This contract is worth approximately Deutsch Mark 260 million ($135 million).

Using a high-pressure production process, nitric acid is produced in three steps. First, through the catalytic combustion of ammonia, secondly, the oxidisation of nitrogen monoxide, and finally the absorption and oxidation of nitrogen bioxide into nitric acid. The nitric acid plant will use Krupp Uhde's proprietary mono-pressure process. The process uses selective catalytic tail-gas cleaning, which minimises waste gas emissions (to less than 50 ppm NOx) and is, therefore, especially environmentally friendly. Krupp Uhde was also awarded the contract for another nitric acid facility in Cologne (Germany) ordered by Erdolchemie Deutschland.


The cyclohexanol/cyclohexanone facility was at one stage in doubt, but Radici decided to proceed with it in order to benefit from the synergies of an integrated complex. Radici has developed a catalyser that allows the production of a cyclohexanol-cyclohexanone mixture that has the correct ratio for the production of adipic acid.

The production of cyclohexanol-cyclohexanone from phenol takes place in two steps. The catalytic hydrogenation of phenol takes place between 100 and 200°C, at low pressure. A palladium catalyser is used for the production of the cyclohexanol-cyclohexanone mixture. The products condense when the reaction gas is cooled. During the ensuing distillation, the cyclohexanol-cyclohexanone separates from the secondary products. The distillation takes place under atmospheric pressure or in a vacuum. The remaining secondary products that are not used in the process are disposed of in an incinerator and are therefore exploited for the production of energy.

The cyclohexanol/cyclohexanone facility order has been given to IAB Ingenieur und Anlagenbau GmbH Leipzig (IAB). The local firm will undertake basic engineering, construction and procurement of primary equipment. The contract is worth Deutsch Mark 50 million ($26 million). The products will be used as feedstock for the adipic acid plant.


Adipic acid is a basic chemical used for manufacturing nylon, a key component for Radici. Nylon 66 is a polyamide which is produced in a reaction involving adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine. Adipic acid is also used in the manufacture of a variety of other chemical products including polyurethane.

The processing technology for the adipic acid plant will come from Radici's proprietary technology. It is produced by using nitric acid to oxidise cyclohexanol/cyclohexanone . It takes place in reactors with copper and vanadium catalysers. All secondary products are reused in this process. The adipic acid is then treated with carbon, crystallization and centrifugal processes.

Krupp Uhde will also supply the storage and filling facilities, the railway loading and unloading facilities, the ammonia and nitric acid tank farms and the entire infrastructure within the plants, in addition to the core plants themselves.


The owner is Radici Chimica Deutschland GmbH in Tröglitz, Saxony-Anhalt, a subsidiary of the Radici Group in Bergamo in Italy. Radici is one of the largest privately owned manufacturers of yarn in Europe and is a leading supplier of basic textile materials for carpets and the automobile industry. The Zeitz investment is the company's largest ever outside Italy.

Saxony is an underdeveloped part of Germany, having formed part of the Communist East German republic. As a result of this, the federal German government has been happy to help the project, although it has not contributed direct subsidies as it has in other projects. The new plants provide an extra 330 jobs in an area of very high unemployment (around 30% of working age population). Despite the shortcomings of the policy of state support, it is unlikely to be discontinued for political reasons.


Krupp Uhde is a German process contractor based in Dortmund, employing around 3,500 people, and with sales of approximately Deutsch Mark 1 billion (about $521 million). The company claims to have completed more than 2,000 projects across the world. The company is particularly experienced in nitric acid facilities, using its own processing technology. This was likely to have been an important factor in Krupp Uhde winning the Zeitz contract. Krupp Uhde is a subsidiary of the ThyssenKrupp group.