BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany) and OMV AG (Vienna, Austria) have announced the successful start-up of ISO C4 plant for direct production of high-purity isobutene at the Burghausen site. 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, and this plant represents the first demonstration of the technology, which is currently available for third-party licensing.
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 at the site 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 metric tons per year (m.t./yr).
Investment volume of this largescale project including auxiliary facilities was EUR 64 million. Recognizing its superior energy efficiency and contribution to CO2 reduction, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Environment subsidized EUR 2.8 mn 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.