BASF stated that this major investment will help to ensure the long term future of one of the UK’s largest chemical manufacturing facilities, which employs around 600 people.
Bradford is a BASF production hub for polyacrylamides, used as water-soluble flocculation aids in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment, enhanced oil recovery, mineral processing and papermaking.
Christian Fischer, president of BASF’s Performance Chemicals division, emphasised that BioACM is a core project in BASF’s global polyacrylamide strategy and essential for the success of the Bradford site. He added: “With the start-up of the BioACM plant at Bradford we will increase our operational efficiency and supply reliability for polyacrylamide whilst securing the location where we have a long history and strong relationships.”
The development of a biocatalytic manufacturing process for acrylamide started in Bradford with a collaboration with Huddersfield University. Subsequent work by scientists from Britain, Germany, South Africa and the US made significant improvements to the performance of the biocatalysed conversion technology.
In 2014, BASF commissioned its first bio-acrylamide plant in the US, in Suffolk, Virginia. The new production plant in Bradford adds to BASF’s bio-acrylamide capacity globally. BASF will further pursue its activities within the extension of BioACM technology worldwide and is actively investigating potential BioACM projects at other locations including Asia Pacific.
The enzymatic process for producing acrylamide, a key monomer in the production of polyacrylamide, consumes less energy, produces less waste, and makes a better product. It operates at ambient temperature and normal atmospheric pressure and generates fewer interfering byproducts so downstream processing is easier.