Anticipating robust demand for the specialty solvent acetonitrile, Ineos says it will build a world-scale plant at its site in Cologne, Germany.Acetonitrile is generated as a coproduct in plants that make acrylonitrile, an intermediate for polymers and fibers. A typical acrylonitrile plant yields 2–4% acetonitrile, but only a handful of companies recover it. Ineos is the world’s largest supplier.Acetonitrile is used in the extraction of butadiene. Chemists are familiar with it as a solvent for high-performance liquid chromatography. Because acetonitrile supply depends on acrylonitrile production, it is sometimes in short supply, such as in 2008, when acrylonitrile output was depressed because of the financial crisis.Ineos shuttered an acrylonitrile complex and an accompanying acetonitrile unit in Seal Sands, England, in 2020. The firm continues to operate plants in Lima, Ohio, and Green Lake, Texas. In recent years, it has boosted capacity with technology that increases the proportion of acetonitrile produced in acrylonitrile reactors.The new unit in Germany, where Ineos hasn’t previously extracted acetonitrile, will have 15,000 metric tons per year of capacity when it comes on line in late 2023 or early 2024. The company says it also plans to extract acetonitrile at an acrylonitrile plant it is building in Saudi Arabia.
New acetonitrile supply is never a bad thing!