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Homecoming of a Wonder Material: Gas–Phase Phosgenation Brings Back TDI!

| Author / Editor: Dominik Stephan* / Peter Steinmüller

Round-Trip for TDI

After trials over several years in Dormagen, the process saw first industrial application in Caojing, China, from 2011 on. Now Bayer brings the firm’s most modern TDI technology home: As the first European location, Dormagen competed successfully with sites like Antwerp in Belgium, the firm says. “This investment is also a statement of faith in Germany as an industrial location,” Dekkers emphasised. With that, Bayer comes full circle: in 1953, the firm commissioned the first large plant in the world for basic phosgenation.

In Dormagen, the new TDI production replaces facilities which had been successfully operating since 1964, as Patrick Thomas, board chairman of Bayer Material Science, explained. At the same time, the new technology saves not only solvent, but also up to 60 % of the energy compared to the conventional process.

Although the investment decision now dates some years back, Bayer chief Dekkers sees his working materials division now well equipped for going alone. In future, the Leverkusen firm wishes to concentrate exclusively on pharma, life science and agrochemicals, launching Material Science on the stock exchange as an independent firm. Certainly, the business fields are fundamentally different: the requirement at BMS, for example, is more for efficient production processes than for the research and product innovation needed in the fast-moving pharma business. This is exactly where BMS wants to score with its gas phase technology. If it goes according to Bayer’s wishes, TDI is the “stuff that foams are made of”, Dekkers says. Whenever there is a question of saving energy, whether in lightweight construction or building insulation, the demand is apparently for high-performance foams based on TDI. The material is therefore more up-to-date than ever – and after 80 years still far from too young young for the scrap heap.

* * The author is an editor of PROCESS Worldwide. Contact: dominik.stephan@vogel.de

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