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Company News, 2001-01-04, 01:00 AM

Degussa-Hüls and Krupp Uhde to cooperate in propylene oxide

The two German companies Degussa-Hüls AG and Krupp Uhde GmbH, headquarted in Frankfurt/Main and in Dortmund, respectively, have concluded an exclusive agreement for cooperating in the development of a new process for the production of propylene oxide. Propylene oxide (PO) is a base chemical with an above-average market growth rate and is used primarily in the production of polyurethane and polyester resin raw materials. Polyurethane is used, for example, in the cushions of auto seats and furniture.

The new process yields propylene oxide by means of the catalytic oxidation of propylene with hydrogen peroxide. As the world's second largest producer of hydrogen peroxide, and as a research and technology-oriented company, Degussa-Hüls explored the process, developing an optimized catalyst and determining the most important parameters. This know-how, combined with Krupp Uhde's expertise in plant engineering and technology, will generate the basis for further process development as regards commercial-scale production and later commercialization.

As a technology-oriented engineering company, Krupp Uhde is systematically planning the future development and expansion of its portfolio of processes. Particular importance is attached in this respect to propylene and its derivatives. Using this innovative technology, Degussa-Hüls intends to open up new sales potential for hydrogen peroxide.

Currently, propylene oxide is manufactured primarily through the chlorohydrine process and the propylene oxide/styrene monomer process (POSM). In the chlorohydrine process, a chlorine-containing waste liquor is produced; the POSM process generates large quantities of styrene monomer (SM) as a co-product. Besides its lower cost, however, the Degussa-Hüls/Krupp Uhde process has the extra advantage of producing no co-product in the manufacturing process.

Krupp Uhde is a company from ThyssenKrupp Engineering segment 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 and gas and pharmaceuticals.

Early in 2001, Degussa-Hüls AG and SKW Trostberg will merge to create the new Degussa AG, which will be the world's largest specialty chemicals company. It will have sales of approximately euro16 billion, with 63,000 employees worldwide and a foreign revenues share of more than 70%.

Degussa-Hüls has the capacity to produce about 430,000 metric tons of hydrogen peroxide per year. The company has hydrogen peroxide plants in Germany, Belgium, Austria, the United States, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa.

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