BASF plans to increase production capacities for acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers (SAP) in Antwerp and for butyl acrylate in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

BASF will increase capacity of SAP to 175,000 tonne/year from 115,000 tonne/year. Capacity for the precursor acrylic acid will be extended as a result and a second plant with a capacity of 160,000 tonne/year is to be built to support the existing 160,000 tonne/year acrylic acid plant.

The additional acrylic acid produced would be needed for SAP production in Antwerp and would supply additional volumes for Ludwigshafen as part of the European integrated production system.

According to BASF, new capacities would be available by 2008

"The decision came in response to existing as well as new long-term supplier agreements, in most cases with strategic customers,” Markus Kramer, head of BASF’s functional polymers division, said. “Contracts are already in place covering the greater part of the sales volume for the additional quantities."

Acrylic acid is the main precursor in the production of superabsorbent polymers, mainly used in nappies and other hygienic products. Other acrylic acid derivatives are pure acrylate dispersions used for binders in varnishes and paints, and acrylic acid ester.