Petrochemicals & Intermediates

As the world leading chemical producer and catalyst supplier, we are dedicated to offer solutions for the industry and identify the best catalyst for different customers with diversification of production objectives. We are here to define the industry with state-of-the-art hydrogenation catalysts which can be applied to the markets of BDO, Oxo Alcohol, Aromatics, Aniline, Petroleum Resin, and more.

The perfect solution for all industry needs

For more than a century, we have been creating chemistry based on petrochemicals and are passionate about chemistry. BASF catalysts help to take advantage of our century of expertise.

BDO is a low viscosity glycol used almost exclusively as an intermediate to synthetize other chemicals and polymers, such as polyurethanes (PU), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and tetrahydrofuran (THF), etc.  

Numerous technologies are commercially used by the market, such as Reppe process (acetylene-based route) and maleic anhydride-based route, etc. 

Maleic anhydride (MAH)-based technology involves several steps. First, di-methyl maleate (DMM) is formed with esterification reaction between MAH and methanol. DMM is hydrogenated to BDO with several hydrogenation steps which is catalyzed by precious metal catalyst or copper catalysts, depends on process set up. BDO is further polished with nickel catalyst to remove the carbonyls. 

Acetylene-based technologies involves following reactions: 

  • synthesis of 1,4-butynediol (BYD) via the formaldehyde ethynylation reaction, which is catalyzed by Cu promoted catalyst.   

  • Hydrogenation of BYD to BDO with nickel catalyst. 

BDO Reaction.png

BASF offers specific catalyst solutions for different technologies with years of commercial reference to fulfill the process and production requirement. Besides that, catalysts are also available for the production of GBL and THF from BDO.

Process Route Catalyst   Comment 
Reppe Route  Cu  Various Cu promoted Powder catalysts for Acetylene Ethynylation 
Ni Various Nickel Tablet catalysts for BYD hydrogenation depends on process requirement 
Maleic anhydride Route Cu  Various Cu tablet catalysts for DMM hydrogenation, GBL and THF production 
Ni  Various catalysts for polishing of BDO 


Oxo alcohols can be used in solvent, plasticizer and detergent end products and have carbon chains ranging from 4 to 18 atoms. Normal and branched chains can be hydrogenated over copper or nickel catalyst to obtain the corresponding alcohols. 

Commercial oxo alcohol process involves the following steps, depending on process:

  • Hydroformylation to produce oxo aldehyde (addition of synthesis gas to olefins)

  • Hydrogenation of oxo aldehyde to oxo alcohol

  • Polishing of oxo alcohols 

Aldehyde hydrogenation process can operate in liquid phase or vapor phase while using Cu or Ni catalyst. Ni catalyst is normally used for polishing reactor to remove the carbonyls. BASF has a broad catalyst portfolio to fulfill different production requirement with years of commercial reference and success. Following is a summary of BASF's catalyst offer for commercial oxo alcohol applications. 

Catalyst  Comment
Cu Various of Cu catalysts for hydrogenation of oxo aldehyde, depends on process and production requirement
Ni Various nickel tablet catalysts for hydrogenation of oxo aldehyde and carbonyl removal from oxo alcohols

BASF offers a suite of precious metal, copper and alumina catalysts that can be used for commercial propylene oxide technology. 

There are currently 5 commercially available process routes for producing propylene oxide.

  • The chlorohydrin (CHPO) technology

  • The propylene oxide-styrene monomer (POSM) technology

  • The propylene-tertiary butyl alcohol (PO/TBA) technology

  • The cumene hydroperoxidation (CHPPO) technology 

  • The hydrogen peroxide-based propylene oxide (HPPO)


BASF offers catalysts with commercial reference to support producers for PO production:

  • POSM technology: Cu catalyst for selective hydrogenation of acetophenone to phenylethanol, Al catalyst for dehydration of phenylethanol to styrene

  • PO/TBA technology: Pd catalyst for selective hydrogenation of alpha methyl styrene 

  • PO/CHPPO technology: Pd catalyst for selective hydrogenation of alpha methyl styrene

  • HPPO technology: Pd catalyst for hydrogenation of quinone to hydroquinone, Pd catalyst for selective hydrogenation of peroxides from HPPO waste water 

BASF offers the E15x-, H0-4x-, H0-3x- and H0-2x-catalyst series of precious metal catalysts for various selective and full hydrogenation applications with focus on highest production yield and long-term catalyst performance.  

Application examples are the selective hydrogenation of C2-, C3-, C4- and pyrolysis gas streams as well as full hydrogenation of C3-, C4- and C5-cuts. Our catalysts with high precious metal efficiency are applicable in fixed reactor beds in gas- liquid- and trickle bed operation mode. 

BASF's precious metal catalyst solutions are based on over 100 global references in steam crackers and refineries. In combination with over 50 years of commercial experience as world leading catalyst supplier, licensor and own applicant of our technologies, BASF can provide superior solutions for various applications.  

Hydrogenation of resin (C5, C9, C5/C9 etc) is the most effective method for obtaining high-quality petroleum resins with low bromine value, light color, high thermal stability, and good light resistance. Nickel and precious metal catalysts are commercially used for petroleum resin hydrogenation. 

We have recently developed an improved E 54x catalyst series for the fixed bed selective hydrogenation of C5 and C9 resins. The series is characterized by an excellent balance of hydrogenation activity and high metal efficiency.

Removal of aromatic compounds is required for the production of solvents for the chemical industry, paints and drilling fluids. BASF as the technology leader in the solvent dearomatization market offers supported nickel extrudates and precious metal catalysts for this segment. 

The main products are supported nickel catalysts, Ni 5282 E, Ni 3288 E, Ni 5256 E, Ni 3298 E, Ni 3300 E and Ni 5300 E. These products are offered in the different segments of the market. Which product is offered depends on the boiling range of the solvent/feed and the impurity level. Ni 5300 E and Ni 3300 E are the new development with highest surface area for more severe operating conditions, e.g. high S content. Ni 5300 E and Ni 3300 E should be able to outperform the existing range of BASF catalysts as well as competitive products.

Dearomatization can also be performed with sulphur tolerant precious metal catalysts. Pd 0152 S and Pd 0155 S are commercially proven.

Most of the acetone produced worldwide is manufactured from cumene hydroperoxide process as a coproduct with phenol. 

Acetone can be further hydrogenated into IPA, which is a common ingredient in chemicals such as antiseptics, disinfectants and detergents. Commercial acetone hydrogenation application operated in trickle bed phase is normally catalyzed with nickel or copper catalyst. BASF offers commercially proven Cu 0865 T and Ni 3354 E catalyst for achieving >99% conversion of acetone and >99% selectivity of IPA.

Phenol can be further hydrogenated to either cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone.

BASF offers nickel catalyst for production of cyclohexanol. For production of cyclohexanone or mixtures, different Pd/Al catalyst are commercially available by BASF. Enhanced selectivity can be achieved with BASF Pd/Al catalyst.  

Alpha-methylstyrene (AMS) as a byproduct of commercial acetone and phenol production will typically hydrogenated to cumene and recycled. Over 99% conversion of cumene can be achieved with market proven BASF Pd/Al catalysts with 4-7 years operation production. 

Palladium on carbon catalysts are traditionally applied for turning crude terephthalic acid streams into polymer grade terephthalic acid. Within the last 3 years, palladium has become the main cost driver for each loaded catalyst batch.

Losses during handling, operating and recovery are unavoidable and are putting stress on the overall economic of the process. BASF has launched in 2019 a new PTA catalyst, called CBA 250. 

Next to our well approved PTA catalysts CBA 300 and CBA 400 our new CBA 250 catalyst is working with 50% less palladium and is developed as drop-in solution for all existing PTA hydrogenation units. As a side effect, a higher selectivity towards the preferred product 4-HMBA are observed, facilitating the downstream processing of the product. 

BASF offers a broad catalyst portfolio including copper, nickel and precious metal catalyst that can be used for nitroaromatic compound hydrogenation to produce mono-amine or diamine products.

For example, aniline can be produced commercially by the vapor phase hydrogenation of nitrobenzene in both fluidized and fixed bed processes:

BASF's Cu and Nickel catalysts are preferred for high aniline yields without ring saturation. 

BASF also offers commercially proven nickel catalysts that can be used for dinitrotoluene hydrogenation to produce TDA.  

With a broad catalyst portfolio that can be used for reductive amination, BASF can support you to identify the best catalyst to fulfill the production requirement.