Germany: Sustainable Innovation BASF, OMV Start Up Isobutene Plant using New Green Technology

Editor: Ahlam Rais

BASF and OMV have worked together on an innovative and sustainable technology for producing high-purity isobutene. The novel technology has now been installed at OMV´s new ISO C4 plant in Burghausen, Germany.

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The new method delivers the highest isobutene quality and maximum energy efficiency by saving 20,000 t/a CO2 emissions.
The new method delivers the highest isobutene quality and maximum energy efficiency by saving 20,000 t/a CO2 emissions.
(Source: BASF)

Ludwigshafen/Germany – With the commissioning of OMV´s new ISO C4 plant at the Burghausen site, the collaboration between the world’s largest chemical company, BASF, and OMV, the international, integrated oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Vienna, has reached a new milestone. The plant is based on a novel technology developed jointly by the two companies and has been producing high-purity isobutene since the end of 2020.

The plant’s exceptional energy efficiency saves 20,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. Up to 80 % of the heating energy required for the new process can be met by thermal discharge from an existing associated facility thanks to a heat integration approach.

The energy-efficient process for the production of isobutene, achieving up to 99.9 % purity, was developed in cooperation between BASF and OMV and a worldwide patent application was filed jointly by the two companies. As a global supplier of catalysts and licensor of petrochemicals technologies, BASF provides the catalyst and reaction concept that intrinsically fulfils all process requirements by OMV. The new unit for the production of high-purity isobutene, which does not need chemical conversion of isobutene, has been integrated into the existing metathesis plant at OMV’s Burghausen site.

The isobutene produced here complements OMV’s existing product portfolio and will be used for manufacturing glues, grease and other chemicals such as antioxidants, as well as in the production of vitamin C. The plant’s production capacity is 60,000 t/a.

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Investment volume of this large-scale project including auxiliary facilities was 75 million dollars (64 million euros). Recognizing its superior energy efficiency and contribution to CO2 reduction, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Environment subsidized 3.3 million dollars (2.8 million euros) towards the ISO C4 plant as part of its environmental innovation program. Construction on the plant had started in the summer of 2019. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the project was successfully realized with the implementation of a customized hygiene and safety concept.

“The new ISO C4 plant illustrates OMV’s innovative strength. It marks another step in implementing our chemicals strategy and safeguards the Burghausen site’s long-term future. The technology, jointly developed with our partner BASF, and the global patent are set to unlock new markets and customer segments for us. The project team has done an outstanding job. The first product deliveries have already been completed and they have met and even exceeded the expectations of everyone involved,” said Wolfram Krenn, OMV Senior Vice President Refining & Petchem Assets Europe.

“As a global leader for process catalysts, BASF serves also as a development partner for our customers. We are proud to support OMV in becoming even more successful. Having demonstrated the performance in OMV’s new ISO C4 plant, the new process will now be available to third parties,” said Detlef Ruff, Senior Vice President, Process Catalysts at BASF.

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