BASF will increase innovation capabilities for its superabsorbent polymer business by building a state-of-the-art Superabsorbents Excellence Center at its Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. The €25 million investment is a clear commitment of the company to the hygiene business as an important part of its acrylics value chain. BASF aims to equip the new pilot plant with latest data collection and sensor technology to accelerate the scale-up process from product development to production scale. After introducing applied robotics for automated sample testing in its development labs, the implementation of advanced modeling is the next step in BASF’s digitization roadmap for its superabsorbent business. The applied technology will be key to further increase product performance. The proximity of the new pilot plant to BASF’s superabsorbent production in Antwerp will shorten time-to-market.
To optimize its production network, the superabsorbent production facility in Mannheim, Germany will be closed. Due to an unfavorable market development and a challenging cost structure, the plant with a capacity of 25 kt/a can no longer be operated economically. All affected employees will be offered new positions in BASF SE. Commercial production of the Mannheim plant will be phased out and moved stepwise to other BASF sites, predominantly to the world-scale plant in Antwerp. “In a highly competitive market environment, we strive to be a strong and forward-thinking partner to our customers in the baby, adult and feminine hygiene market offering innovative and sustainable solutions,” says Dr. Wolfgang Kanther, Vice President, Global Marketing & Strategy Acrylics Value Chain.