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Innovative, sustainable technology developed by BASF and OMV: New ISO C4 plant in Burghausen/Germany starts production

  • Successful start-up of ISO C4 plant for direct production of high-purity isobutene 
  • First-time demonstration of novel production technology co-developed by OMV and BASF 
  • New method delivers highest isobutene quality and maximum energy efficiency: 20,000 t/a CO2 emissions saved
  • Technology available for third-party licensing 

With the commissioning of OMV´s new ISO C4 plant at the Burghausen site, the collaboration between the world’s largest chemical company, BASF, and OMV, the international, integrated oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Vienna, has reached a new milestone. The plant is based on a novel technology developed jointly by the two companies and has been producing high-purity isobutene since the end of 2020. 

The plant’s exceptional energy efficiency saves 20,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. Up to 80% of the heating energy required for the new process can be met by thermal discharge from an existing associated facility thanks to a heat integration approach. 

The energy-efficient process for the production of isobutene, achieving up to 99.9 % purity, was developed in cooperation between BASF and OMV and a worldwide patent application was filed jointly by the two companies. As a global supplier of catalysts and licensor of petrochemicals technologies, BASF provides the catalyst and reaction concept that intrinsically fulfils all process requirements by OMV. The new unit for the production of high-purity isobutene, which does not need chemical conversion of isobutene, has been integrated into the existing metathesis plant at OMV’s Burghausen site.

The isobutene produced here complements OMV’s existing product portfolio and will be used for manufacturing glues, grease and other chemicals such as antioxidants, as well as in the production of vitamin C. The plant’s production capacity is 60,000 t/a.

Investment volume of this largescale project including auxiliary facilities was EUR 64 mn. Recognizing its superior energy efficiency and contribution to CO2 reduction, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Environment subsidized EUR 2.8 mn towards the ISO C4 plant as part of its environmental innovation program. Construction on the plant had started in the summer of 2019. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the project was successfully realized with the implementation of a customized hygiene and safety concept. 

“The new ISO C4 plant illustrates OMV’s innovative strength. It marks another step in implementing our chemicals strategy and safeguards the Burghausen site’s long-term future. The technology, jointly developed with our partner BASF, and the global patent are set to unlock new markets and customer segments for us. The project team has done an outstanding job. The first product deliveries have already been completed and they have met and even exceeded the expectations of everyone involved,” said Wolfram Krenn, OMV Senior Vice President Refining & Petchem Assets Europe. 

“As a global leader for process catalysts, BASF serves also as a development partner for our customers. We are proud to support OMV in becoming even more successful. Having demonstrated the performance in OMV’s new ISO C4 plant, the new process will now be available to third parties,” said Detlef Ruff, Senior Vice President, Process Catalysts at BASF.

About BASF
At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 110,000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of €59 billion in 2020. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the U.S. Further information at www.basf.com.

About BASF’s Catalysts Division
BASF’s Catalysts division is the world’s leading supplier of environmental and process catalysts. The group offers exceptional expertise in the development of technologies that protect the air we breathe, produce the fuels that power our world and ensure efficient production of a wide variety of chemicals, plastics and other products, including advanced battery materials. By leveraging our industry-leading R&D platforms, passion for innovation and deep knowledge of precious and base metals, BASF’s Catalysts division develops unique, proprietary solutions that drive customer success. Further information on BASF’s Catalysts division is available on the internet at www.basf.com

About OMV Aktiengesellschaft
OMV produces and markets oil and gas, as well as chemical solutions in a responsible way and develops innovative solutions for a circular economy. With Group sales revenues of EUR 17 bn and a workforce of around 25,000 employees in 2020 (incl. Borealis), OMV is one of Austria’s largest listed industrial companies. In Upstream, OMV has a strong base in Central and Eastern Europe as well as a balanced international portfolio, with Middle East & Africa, the North Sea, Russia and Asia-Pacific as further core regions. Daily average production was 463,000 boe/d in 2020. In Downstream, OMV operates three refineries in Europe and owns a 15% share in ADNOC Refining and ADNOC Global Trading, with a total annual processing capacity of 24.9 mn tons. Furthermore, OMV operates about 2,100 filling stations in ten European countries and runs gas storage facilities in Austria and Germany. In 2020, total natural gas sales volumes amounted to around 164 TWh.

In the chemicals sector, OMV, through its subsidiary Borealis, is one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions and a European market leader in base chemicals, fertilizers and the mechanical recycling of plastics. Borealis operates in over 120 countries. In 2020, Borealis generated EUR 6.8 billion in sales revenue. The company supplies services and products to customers around the globe through Borealis and two important joint ventures: Borouge (with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, or ADNOC, based in UAE); and Baystar™ (with Total, based in the US).
Sustainability is an integral part of OMV’s corporate strategy. OMV supports the transition to a lower-carbon economy and has set measurable targets for reducing carbon intensity.