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Shell increases polyol production flexibility in Europe

December 5, 2011

Shell Chemicals has completed a project to strengthen the flexibility of its polyol production facility in Europe. A direct result of this will be an immediate increase in CASE (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers) polyol capacity from the site at Pernis in the Netherlands said the company.

Modifications made to both the plant and process technology are enabling CASE-grade Caradol polyols to be made on a continuous production line for the first time in Shell’s history. This is providing a boost in capacity, designed to enable Shell’s propylene oxide and derivatives (PODer) business to respond quickly to increasing demand from customers across Europe.

“We have been in the polyols business for over 50 years and intend to maintain our position as a leading supplier to the CASE sector,” said Colin McKendrick, general manager, propylene oxide and derivatives (PODer), Shell Chemicals.

“Our customers are seeing higher demand for their CASE systems and we want to support their growth plans," McKendrick said. "By taking an innovative approach to our manufacturing we have been able to significantly boost our CASE production capacity within a very short time frame.”

CASE polyols are used in a variety of polyurethane (PU) applications across the automotive, construction and surfacing industries. The flexibility of CASE-based PU systems means they can be formulated to deliver tailored performance properties for specific end-uses.  

“To achieve this increase in capacity we are making CASE polyols using our proprietary continuous technology,” said McKendrick.  “It’s the same grade, just made in a more efficient way.”

Utilizing continuous technology avoids interruptions in production due to batch changes, and achieves higher overall plant throughput. The continuous process technology also imparts some beneficial properties to the polyol including less odor and lower levels of volatile organic compounds.