Car seats represent an important market share for the polyurethane industry.
Propylene Oxide (PO) is the main ingredient for the production of Polyurethane foams, which are used in a wide range of rapidly growing applications. Because of this, global demand for PO is rising, and the need for hydrogen peroxide to produce that PO is growing consequently. As a technology leader in hydrogen peroxide, Solvay is partnering with its PO customers to build new capacities where needed. The new HPPO mega plant* in Jubail, Saudi Arabia will help further develop its peroxide business in the Middle East.
Between 2008 and 2016, Solvay Peroxides doubled its production capacity with the construction of three Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) mega plants based on high productivity technology: in Antwerp (Belgium), Map Ta Phut (Thailand) and Jubail (Saudi Arabia). The main PO players like BASF and Dow Chemicals rely on Solvay’s expertise to produce high quality hydrogen peroxide, as it’s one of the two key raw materials in the PO production process: the oxidizer that converts propylene into Propylene Oxide. Using H2O2 as an oxidizer instead of other options leads to a significant reduction in byproducts generated by the PO process.
Surfing a wave of growth with PO …
Propylene Oxide feeds a number of downstream products such as polyols and glycols, and at the end of the production chain, polyurethanes (PU). Polyurethane foams have excellent insulating properties, and the move across many industries to adopt more energy-efficient technologies is leading to greater demand.
Polyurethanes applications serve a wide range of industries, all of which are growing, in particular insulation for housing, automotive, furniture and mattresses. Insulation for the housing market and energy efficiency regulations such as in Europe are driving the use of PU foams in the construction sector. Lightweight car seats in the automotive market are also a huge driver for growth. Over time, the density of polyurethanes has been reduced by 30 to 40% while maintaining the same mechanical properties. Seating foam for instance has one of the lowest densities of any plastic used in a car. Home furnishings like mattresses and sofas are also an important outlet for PU foam to meet the demands of the emerging middle class in Asia and Africa.
... while conquering new H2O2 markets in Middle East
Being present in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offers Solvay Peroxides many opportunities for new businesses. The new mega plant consolidates the development of Solvay’s peroxide business in the region, which already serves in applications such as waste water treatment, food processing and packaging, homecare, and chemical manufacturing.
“Availability of product in Saudi Arabia is an important lever to further develop the hydrogen peroxide sales of Solvay in the country and the region" explains Elisabetta Renni, Export Manager EMEA. “The next one will be to closely support potential customers in fully developing peroxide applications.”
Growth perspectives and business opportunities are good for Solvay Peroxides in Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. A new salesforce organization has therefore been put in place to reinforce the commercial team for Middle East. “As a world leader in hydrogen peroxide and through this mega plant, we are reinforcing our presence, our customer proximity and growth commitment in the region,” underlines Georges Crauser, President of Solvay’s Peroxides Global Business Unit.
*HPPO mega plant (Hydrogen Peroxides for Propylene Oxide) in Jubail is owned by SHPCo, a joint venture between Solvay and Sadara (JV of Dow Chemicals and Saudi Aramco.)