BASF Launches Polyisobutene Plant


BASF started up a new 25,000 metric tons per year, highly reactive polyisobutene plant at its Ludwigshafen, Germany site, raising annual capacity there to 40,000 tons. HR PIB is a chemical intermediate used in additives for fuels and lubricants.

Constructing the new plant took one and a half years, BASF spokesman Tim Forschler told Lube Report. In April 2008 BASF increased its annual capacity for the Glissopal brand highly reactive polyisobutene at its Antwerp, Belgium site from 75,000 to 100,000 tons.

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Although low-molecular-weight PIB is typically used for base stocks, HR PIB is used almost exclusively for additives, said R. David Whitby, chief executive of Pathmaster Marketing Ltd., Woking, U.K. Its the less-reactive types that find their way into base stocks, Whitby noted. They are fairly specialized sorts of base stocks, primarily used for industrial lubricants and low-smoke two-stroke oils.

He pointed out that BASF, along with some additive manufacturers, produces PIB for use in making PIB succinimide. Known as PIBSI, it is a dispersant considered a cost-effective alternative to polyethers used in diesel, biodiesel and engine oils to control engine deposits. It also has applications in water treatment.

Other large producers of PIB include Ineos, TPC Group (formerly Texas Petrochemicals), Lubrizol, Infineum and Chevron Oronite.

Of the manufacturers, about 60 percent of the global PIB manufacturing goes into making dispersant additives for fuels and lubricants, Whitby detailed. Only about 30 percent of the PIB is actually going into making materials that find their way into either lubricants as base stocks or other types of additives in lubricants.

BASF produces PIB in four plants at its Ludwigshafen and Antwerp sites, manufacturing low-molecular-weight PIB (Glissopal brand) as well as medium- and high-molecular-weight PIB (Oppanol).

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