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Products and solutions, 2003-08-21, 02:00 AM

Advanced Degussa-Uhde Technology heading for possible commercialisation for the first time.

Sasol commences Basic Engineering on a potential Propylene Oxide Plant in South Africa.

Sasol Ltd, Johannesburg, South Africa, is currently investigating the feasibility of producing propylene oxide in South Africa, using a new process developed by Degussa AG, Düsseldorf and Uhde GmbH, Dortmund. Degussa and Uhde have agreed to license the technology to Sasol. Following a comprehensive pre-feasibility study by all three companies, basic engineering is about to commence to determine whether to further proceed with the project.

Robert Morlino, head of the Degussa Bleaching and Water Chemicals Business Unit, says: "The construction of a propylene oxide plant utilizing this innovative, economical and environmentally sound process will assure that Degussa and Uhde are the leading companies in the sector." The proposed plant in South Africa with an annual capacity of about 60,000 tonnes would serve as a reference for the technology to be offered for even larger plants.

The process, different from the processes currently used, does not generate any so called co-products. Developed by Degussa and Uhde, the process yields propylene oxide (PO) from propylene and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), using a special catalyst. The advantages of the new process are already becoming apparent. Operation will be more cost-effective compared to the production processes currently used for propylene oxide, particularly because of a significantly lower capital investment. Moreover, the new process is extremely environmentally sound: It generates very high yields, so that aside from water, there is no generation of by-products in significant quantities. "For us, the innovative and co-product free PO/H2O2 process is the process of the future," says Klaus Schneiders, member of Uhde`s Executive Board. "We`re quite sure it will become the standard for construction of new propylene oxide plants world wide."

All three partners stand to benefit from the co operation and the potential construction of a new plant in South Africa.

- For Degussa as the world´s second largest producer of hydrogen peroxide, which has no plans to produce its own propylene oxide on a commercial scale, the partnership will unlock additional sales opportunities for hydrogen peroxide. Therefore the process is of high strategic importance for the company. Should the current plans of Sasol materialize, a new option would open up to Degussa: the construction of a hydrogen peroxide plant with an annual capacity of about 40,000 tonnes adjacent to Sasol.

- Already a significant producer of ethylene glycol ethers, Sasol will process the propylene oxide to produce propylene glycol ethers-a move that extends its range in these products. Glycol ethers are widely used in the coatings, inks, adhesives and related industries.

- Uhde stands to generate additional revenues from engineering and contracting.

Degussa and Uhde announced an exclusive partnership for development of a new process for manufacturing propylene oxide as early as 2001. As a company geared to research and technology, Degussa explored the process, developed a catalyst optimized for the process, and set the most important parameters for the process. Degussa has since developed the process together with Uhde`s expertise in process development, design and construction of chemical and other industrial plants. At Degussa`s site in Hanau-Wolfgang, experts from Degussa and Uhde further optimised process parameters in a pilot plant, which comprises all process recycles and reflects the complete production process. The plan now is to transfer the process to the industrial scale.

Propylene oxide is a bulk chemical with above average growth rates, which is used primarily for the production of raw materials for polyurethane, but also for propylene glycol and glycol ether manufacture. Polyurethane is used in a wide range of applications, including car parts or furniture.

<small>Uhde is a company in the Technologies segment of the ThyssenKrupp Group and has a workforce of 3,500 employees worldwide. The company`s activities focus on the design and construction of chemical and other industrial plants in the following fields: fertilisers, organic chemicals and plastics, electrolysis, oil, gas and refining technology and pharmaceuticals.</small>

<small>With an annual capacity of 490,000 metric tons, Degussa`s Bleaching &amp; Water Chemicals Business Unit is the worldwide second-largest producer of the environmentally safe bleaching and oxidation agent. Hydrogen peroxide is used mainly in the bleaching of paper and pulp. Degussa manufactures the product in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, the United States, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa.</small>


Uhde GmbH
Andreas Beckers - Public Relations
Tel.+49 2 31 5 47 -2514
Fax +49 2 31 5 47 26 28

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