PIB Expansion Planned at Ludwigshafen


BASF will expand its capacity to produce medium-molecular weight polyisobutenes at its Verbund petrochemical refinery in Ludwigshafen, Germany, in response to growing demand for lubricants and other applications, the chemical giant announced last week.

The project will boost capacity at that site by 25% by the first half of 2025, BASF said. The company did not specify the existing capacity, but according to Lubes’n’Greases Base Stock Plant Data, the site currently can produce 40,000 metric tons per year of PIBs.

PIBs are used in a range of applications, from window sealants to battery binder materials and food packaging, but 60% go to the lubricants industry, according to Chemceed. In that sector they are used both as base stocks and as lubricant additives. For lube additives they can be used as chemical intermediates in the production of dispersants and as viscosity index improvers or anti-mist agents in metalworking fluids.

Demand in the lubes industry has risen over the past decade in more, partly because of closures of API Group I base oil plants, which produce bright stock. PIBs are one of the few alternatives to replace bright stock.

The PIB plant in Ludwigshafen is the smallest of three BASF sources of the chemicals, including a joint venture with Petronas in Malaysia. It is also the smallest of five sources in Europe.

BASF markets its medium molecular weight PIBs under the Oppanol brand name.