he two German companies Degussa-Hüls AG and Krupp Uhde GmbH, headquarted
in Frankfurt/Main and in Dortmund, respectively, have concluded an exclusive
agreement for cooperating in the development of a new process for the production of
propylene oxide. Propylene oxide (PO) is a base chemical with an above-average
market growth rate and is used primarily in the production of polyurethane and
polyester resin raw materials. Polyurethane is used, for example, in the cushions of
auto seats and furniture.
The new process yields propylene oxide by means of the catalytic oxidation of
propylene with hydrogen peroxide. As the world’s second largest producer of
hydrogen peroxide, and as a research and technology-oriented company,
Degussa-Hüls explored the process, developing an optimized catalyst and
determining the most important parameters. This know-how, combined with Krupp
Uhde's expertise in plant engineering and technology, will generate the basis for
further process development as regards commercial-scale production and later
As a technology-oriented engineering company, Krupp Uhde is systematically
planning the future development and expansion of its portfolio of processes. Particular
importance is attached in this respect to propylene and its derivatives. Using this
innovative technology, Degussa-Hüls intends to open up new sales potential for
Currently, propylene oxide is manufactured primarily through the chlorohydrine
process and the propylene oxide/styrene monomer process (POSM). In the
chlorohydrine process, a chlorine-containing waste liquor is produced; the POSM
process generates large quantities of styrene monomer (SM) as a co-product.
Besides its lower cost, however, the Degussa-Hüls/Krupp Uhde process has the extra
advantage of producing no co-product in the manufacturing process.