OQ Chemicals – formerly Oxea – recently completed an expansion at its site in Oberhausen, Germany, increasing its isononanoic acid global production capacity by 30%. The material is used in synthetic lubricants.
The project completed at the site is part of a multiphase plan announced in January 2019 to increase carboxylic acid production capacity. At that time the company said it would double its historical production capacity of isononanoic acid this year by improving and debottlenecking manufacturing processes at its five existing carboxylic acid production units. It then planned to open a sixth world-scale production plant in 2021.
The first step in the plan was a debottlenecking of isononanoic acid production units in Oberhausen, which was completed in May of 2019.
“Isononanoic acid, a higher carboxylic acid, is a key ingredient in next generation synthetic polyol ester-based lubricants for the refrigeration industry,” Kyle Hendrix of OQ Chemicals’ Marketing Acids, said in a news release. “Demand is driven by changes in new environmental regulations and heightened energy efficiency standards.” Demand for synthetic refrigeration oils is rising due to initiatives to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons.
The Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to stop using substances harmful to the ozone layer, is one of those initiatives. The agreement established that countries phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons, which were widely used in refrigerants but later found to create holes in the ozone layer.
HFCs were an initial substitute, but their status as greenhouse gasses made them a target of efforts to combat global warming, though they are not directly harmful to the ozone layer. The Kigali amendment of the Montreal Protocol, which took effect Jan. 1, 2019, mandated that most developed countries cut their HFC production by 80% by 2045.
Isononanoic acids can be also used for synthetic lubricants in the aviation industry.
“The completion of the expansion project marks an important milestone in our long-term capacity strategy for carboxylic acids, which is based on expanding existing assets and adding production plants,” Oliver Borgmeier, chief operating officer at OQ Chemicals, said in the release. “As the expansion projects are completed, work on our projected, sixth world-scale
carboxylic acid plant in Oberhausen continues. The additional volume will further enhance the
flexibility of our production platforms and improve reliability of supply, allowing our customers to grow their business across the whole acid portfolio for the next decade.”
In July 2019 the company announced plans for its sixth carboxylic acid plant, in Oberhausen. At that time, the company claimed to be the world’s largest producer of carboxylic acids, with global capacity of 180,000 metric tons per year.
Carboxylic acids from OQ Chemicals are used in the production of synthetic lubricants and as building blocks for the animal feed industry.
Global chemical company Oxea, which is owned by Oman Oil, changed its name to OQ Chemicals in May.