BASF to build formic acid plant at Louisiana facility

BASF announced Friday that it will build a new production plant for formic acid at its integrated Verbund site in Geismar, Louisiana.

The new plant will create 20 new jobs and have a capacity of more than 50,000 tpy.

It will be the only formic acid plant in North America and will allow BASF to serve strategic markets in North and South America better, including applications for pharmaceuticals, energy, animal nutrition, leather and cleaning products, the company said.

The new plant is expected to start up in the second quarter of 2014. Investment terms were not disclosed.

BASF's customers use formic acid as an eco-efficient solution in a wide range of applications such as in animal feed, where it provides protection of the feed and supports the health of the animal itself.

Potassium formate, a salt of formic acid, is an environmentally friendly and highly efficient de-icing agent used on roads and airport runways. It is easily biodegradable, thereby, protecting aquatic wildlife in nearby rivers and watersheds.

Both formic acid and potassium formate are also used in the oil field industry as part of the drilling and completion process, as well as in shale gas exploration to promote extraction.

Formic acid can be used as a de-scaling agent as well, and is used in industrial cleaning to remove various mineral deposits from desalination plants, refineries and other processing industries.

"The new plant further strengthens our position as a leading supplier of chemistry for sustainable solutions," said Hans Engel, CEO of BASF Corp., who made the announcement during a press conference at BASF's new regional headquarters building in Florham Park, New Jersey.

BASF currently operates two formic acid plants located at the company's integrated Verbund sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Nanjing, China, with a total capacity of 255,000 tpy.

"This investment demonstrates our commitment to the increasing market demand in North and South America driven by current and new applications of this versatile product,” said Soeren Hildebrandt, senior vice president of BASF's chemical intermediates division.

“We will be able to serve our customers better with shorter lead times and greater supply reliability,” Hildebrant added. “It also reinforces BASF's global leading position in formic acid with production in Europe, North America and Asia.”

BASF said it focuses on sustainable development of products such as formic acid, which not only has an excellent sustainable profile in use, but also in its production as part of the company's Verbund concept.

The Verbund concept links production and energy requirements in an efficient manner, according to the company.

BASF says its Geismar site incorporates the Verbund concept and allows BASF to maximize production efficiencies of formic acid while helping to protect the environment and surrounding communities by reducing waste and cutting emissions, and keeping resource consumption and transportation to a minimum.

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