Bayer MaterialScience commissions new hydrogenation technical center

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The FINANCIAL — Bayer MaterialScience has commissioned a new technical center for the development of isocyanate production processes at Chempark Dormagen, according to Bayer.

 

The research center was erected in just under a year with an investment of EUR 5 million. The state-of-the-art facility is focused on hydrogenation technology for the production of precursors to diphenylmethane diisocyanate and toluene diisocyanate . MDI is the starting product for rigid polyurethane foam, which enables particularly efficient insulation of buildings, in particular. Over its service life, it saves as much as 70 times more energy than is needed to produce the foam. TDI is used to make flexible polyurethane foam for comfortable upholstered furniture and mattresses.

MDI is based on benzene, which is first nitrated into nitrobenzene and then hydrogenated to produce aniline. An additional step then converts the aniline to diphenylmethane diamine, the direct precursor to MDI. A catalyst is used to produce aniline from nitrobenzene and hydrogen gas. With the conventional isothermic process, which is performed at a constant temperature, the substantial heat generated during the reaction must be dissipated using heat transfer oils. The reaction takes place inside a reactor block, in which many thousands of tubes containing the catalyst have been welded together. Finally, the aniline must be painstakingly purified of byproducts before it can be used further.

The adiabatic variant developed by Bayer MaterialScience is a current example of innovative process development in the area of hydrogenation. The technology eliminates the need for heat transfer and enables a substantial gain in efficiency. Here the reaction takes place in a large steel vessel, in which the catalyst is placed on a grating. The heat of reaction is dissipated together with the gas flow, eliminating the need for the circulating oil loop. In addition, the product is also of significantly higher purity.

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The researchers plan to concentrate on the further optimization of both process variants at the new technical center. Other focal points will be researching and improving the hydrogenation of dinitrotoluene to obtain toluene diamine, the direct precursor to TDI, and also the Deacon process for the oxidation of hydrogen chloride.

It is not just the efficiency of the production processes that plays a central role at the new technical center. The building itself is state-of-the-art and was designed for sustainability using innovative materials from the EcoCommercial Building network.

 

 

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