Applications and safety
The planned main plant, the construction of which is the subject of our current investigations, will produce high-purity ethylene oxide (EO) from ethylene and oxygen. Ethylene oxide, EO for short, is a basic chemical and starting material for various downstream products. These in turn are used to produce chemicals with a broad range of applications, such as surfactants and polyols. Such products can be found in a huge array of products that we encounter in our daily lives: in cosmetics and other personal care products, in household and industrial cleaners and detergents, in medicines and food and also in paints, coatings and inks.
At the Lülsdorf site, this EO will be processed directly into a number of downstream products: ethoxylates, ethylene carbonates, cellulose ethers and polyethylene glycols. The CO2 recovered at the site would also be fed into the production of ethylene carbonates. Ethylene carbonates are a key component of the electrolytes used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries such as those installed in electric cars. In planning these facilities, therefore, we are also helping to advance the progress of electromobility.
Ethoxylates are surface-active substances generally classified as non-ionic surfactants. They reduce the surface tension of a liquid or the interfacial tension between, for example, a solid surface and a liquid. They exhibit a wide functional spectrum comprising foaming, wetting, emulsifying and cleaning, and cover a broad range of applications.
Household cleaners, laundry detergents and personal care products
Ethoxylates are basic components of washing, cleaning and body care products such as shampoos or shower gels. The ensure skin compatibility, for example; they can also create a pearling effect and change the flow properties of liquids.
Textile manufacture and fabric treatment
Foaming and wetting agents, emulsifiers, defoamers and dispersing agents are used in the following processes: Cleaning, spinning, bleaching, desizing, dyeing and softening of fibers.
Here, surfactants are used as foaming agents for cardboard and plasterboard, as additives to chipboard and as admixtures and superplasticizers for fresh concrete mixes.
Polyols are basic ingredients used in the manufacture of polyurethane (abbreviated PU) foam products. They have a fascinating range of applications in numerous industries.
Polyols for soft foam products
PU soft or flexible foams are the basis of comfortable cold-cure foam mattresses and cushions with high rebound elasticity. Car seats and bicycle saddles are also made of PU foam, as is the molded foam of dashboards / instrument panels. PU is found in the floor coverings of sports arenas and in the soles of comfortable sports shoes.
Polyols for hard foam products
PU hard or rigid foams provide thermal insulation in, for example, refrigeration trucks. Rigid foams are also used in the construction industry, for instance in panels, as spray foam coverings or as sealing foam for window installation. And assembly foams are also made from polyols. PU systems are even encountered in mining where they are used to seal cracks in the rock strata.
Polyols for CASE applications
Specialty polyols are used in coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (CASE), including impregnations and, for example, the rubber-like PU elastomers that are used as textile fibres. Industrial lubricants are also made from polyols.
Ethylene carbonate is used, among other things, as a solvent. The chemical is a particularly important component of electrolyte solutions for lithium-ion batteries, as used for example in electric vehicles.
Polyethylene glycols (PEG) are produced through the polymerization of ethylene oxide. They are water-soluble, non-toxic polymers employed in medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, for industrial applications and also in cosmetic products. For example, PEGs serve as active ingredient carriers for drugs, for example in tablets or ointments. In cosmetics, PEGs are the basis of many skin creams and lotions, while in toothpastes they act as dispersants.
Ethylene oxide is also used for the so-called etherification of cellulose, a substance obtained from tree wood, for instance. Cellulose ethers have an exceptionally broad spectrum of applications.
As additives in the construction industry, they improve the workability of gypsum, plaster and mortar; they also serve as adhesives. Similarly, with their various properties, they are used as dispersants, emulsifiers or stabilizers in a wide range of industries, including personal care and cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, textiles and food. Cellulose ethers are likewise employed as detergent additives, as well as in drilling fluids for oil production.
Like many basic chemicals, ethylene oxide is classified as a hazardous substance. It is extremely flammable and can be harmful to health in the event of contact or inhalation. PCC is therefore committed to taking strict and comprehensive safety precautions for the production, storage and transport of ethylene oxide and all other substances at the site. These would be subjected to a process of continuous development and improvement and regularly reviewed by external experts and the relevant authorities. Because the safety of our employees and neighbors is our highest priority.
We apply the very latest and most advanced technical standards in all our facilities, complemented by the decades of experience available within our group of companies in the processing, storage and transport of ethylene oxide. As a matter of course, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with all relevant authorities, the site fire department and the Evonik safety and security departments.