An oily liquid with a characteristic odour, 2-EHA is used to manufacture acrylic paint. It is similar to butyl acrylate (BA), which is widely applied in the paints and coatings industry. Yet, their chemical composition is different, as 2-EHA is produced from heavier alcohol and used in more complex dispersions. Both materials improve the paint’s waterproofness, adhesiveness and UV resistance, and ensure its smooth application at temperatures below zero. These properties make 2-EHA products a premium choice.
While butyl acrylate has long been produced domestically, with the bulk of it supplied by SIBUR, 2-EHA has previously had to be exported by Russian manufacturers either as a standalone product or as part of end-products such as paints, adhesives or road marking materials. This dependence on imports limited their ability to expand a product range and create new formulas.
Acrylic acid and 2-ethylhexanol are key components of 2-EHA. While most 2-EHA producers have their own acrylic acid capacities, 2-ethylhexanol is typically sourced from third parties. On top of that, its production requires a unique technology.
Following the market research, SIBUR decided to set up 2-EHA capacities and commissioned its R&D Centre NIOST to develop the production technology. The process took 1.5 years to complete. After fine-tuning the technology in the laboratory, the company built a pilot unit, and its test results provided a springboard for designing a 2-EHA industrial production line. The project included an upgrade of butyl acrylate capacities of SIBUR-Neftekhim in Dzerzhinsk and the launch of a new technology to switch between the products. For this purpose, SIBUR integrated new columns, tanks and pumps into the existing process, built parallel pipes, and regrouped feedstock and product storage tanks.
The project included an upgrade of butyl acrylate capacities of SIBUR-Neftekhim in Dzerzhinsk.
The acrylic acid production also takes place in Dzerzhinsk, while 2-ethylhexanol, the second component of 2-EHA, comes from SIBUR-Khimprom in Perm. As a result, SIBUR has become the fifth company in the world to set up a full 2-EHA production cycle using its own feedstock. Previously, only BASF, LG Chem, Formosa and Mitsubishi Chemical could boast a closed-loop production system. Equipped with new technologies, SIBUR is no longer exposed to external factors that affect its product quality, and enjoys greater production flexibility.
“Now we can switch between butyl acrylate and 2-EHA production,” says Dmitry Shinkaruk, Chief Process Engineer of SIBUR-Neftekhim. “Our total 2-EHA capacity is 6 ktpa. As a rule, we produce a batch of 2-EHA, then switch back to butyl acrylate after performing a set of operations.”
SIBUR's clients immediately recognised the new product's high quality, and its outstanding performance characteristics were attested by a number of certificates. “We have successfully completed homologation with European and US companies. The product received a REACH certificate and is fully compliant with all specifications,” says Konstantin Gostinin, Сhief Export Sales Manager at SIBUR International.
From imports to exports
2-EHA-based acrylic dispersions are produced by dozens of Russian facilities, with their product ranges gradually shifting towards speciality materials. SIBUR chose the right time to launch 2-EHA production domestically, as it gives an impetus to the paints and coatings industry to create new formulas and expand product ranges. “This is indeed one of the most important and timely projects for the PEOSD,” says Danila Dubovets, Head of Investment Management at the Joint Development Block of SIBUR's Plastics, Elastomers and Organic Synthesis Division (PEOSD).
The arrival of domestically produced 2-EHA will make Russian manufacturers much less dependent on its imports.
“This ester is opening up new opportunities for domestic processing companies, and this is what we think makes it so promising”, notes Natalia Koshelenko, Chief Sales Expert at SIBUR's Plastics, Elastomers and Organic Synthesis Division. “The manufacturers need a wide range of formulas to satisfy the increasing needs of end consumers in the dispersion market. We think our efforts to expand the product range should remain a driving force behind the Russian producers' transition to a whole new level of production and market positions.”
At the same time, the domestically produced 2-EHA is entering export markets.
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“We pay special attention to the quality of components used in our product formulas. Our adhesive materials and water acrylic dispersions are among a few Russian-made products that successfully compete with their international counterparts. After SIBUR marketed its 2-EHA, we performed its comprehensive testing at our R&D centre and can now confirm that its quality and performance meet the highest global standards. It will help us deliver materials of the highest quality.”