German chemicals and materials firm BASF is launching a €25 million (about $29 million) project to erect a Superabsorbents Excellence Center at its Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium that will support its Hygiene business, a recent company release announced.
A pilot plant will be built at the complex and outfitted with sensors and data collection solutions at the site to advance its development of superabsorbent polymer products. Once operational, BASF will use advanced modelling at the site to increase the performance of the products. The firm recently started to use applied robotics for automated sample testing of the polymers in its development labs.
“In a highly competitive 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,” Dr. Wolfgang Kanther, vice president, Global Marketing & Strategy, Acrylics Value Chain for BASF, said in a release.
As part of the effort, BASF will close a superabsorbent production facility in Mannheim, Germany.
“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,” the company said in the announcement. “All affected employees will be offered new positions with BASF SE.”
The Antwerp site and several other facilities will take on the commercial production activities of the Mannheim plant.