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Covestro opens new HDI plant in Shanghai; raw material for automotive coatings

Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience and one of the world’s largest polymer companies, has opened a new plant that will produce up to 50,000 tonnes per year of HDI (hexamethylene diisocyanate)—an aliphatic diisocyanate used in special coatings applications, such as coatings which are resistant to abrasion and degradation from ultraviolet light.

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Covestro’s new HDI plant at Shanghai, China can produce up to 50,000 metric tons of the coatings raw material per year. Source: Covestro. Click to enlarge.

Particularly in China and the Asia-Pacific region, there is strong demand for coatings and adhesives in such key sectors as the automotive, construction and furniture, footwear and textiles industries. We believe there is considerable potential for growth through product and application innovations, and we are responding to that with the expansion of our HDI production capacity.

—Daniel Meyer, head of the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties (CAS) segment

Focusing particularly on the needs of customers in the region, Meyer added that the new plant will help ensure a stable and flexible supply of HDI.

The material forms the basis for a number of innovative products and solutions.

Covestro used it in the development of BLULOGIQ, for example, a unique technology for coating plastic automotive parts that is highly energy efficient and delivers significant cost savings.

—Daniel Meyer

Dr. Klaus Schäfer, the Covestro Management Board member responsible for production and technology, said, the addition of the new plant makes Shanghai one of the largest HDI production centers in the world.

The new plant is part of an investment program for the site with a volume of more than €3 billion (US$3.3 billion) which was launched over ten years ago and is now expiring. This program also calls for polycarbonate production capacities at the site to double to about 400,000 metric tons per year before the end of in 2016. This versatile, high-performance plastic is used in a number of industries, including the automotive, construction and electronics sectors.

Schäfer said that the new plant is not only very safe and highly efficient, but is more environmentally friendly.

In the last process step, for example, the use of solvents has been cut by up to 80% and up to 60% less energy is used compared with the conventional technology. Overall, the carbon footprint of HDI production has been reduced by up to 70%.

Conventionally, HDI is synthesized by the phosgenation of hexamethylene diamine to form crude HDI, which is then distilled to extract pure HDI. This requires the handling of toxic phosgene and also produces HCl as a seriously corrosive by-product.

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