LYNDHURST, UK - INEOS, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, has announced a technological breakthrough that will significantly improve the global security of supply for acetonitrile. Changes to its technology have recently been implemented at facilities in Seal Sands (UK), Lima, OH, and Green Lake, TX.
Acetonitrile is an essential solvent used in the production of pharmaceuticals such as insulin and antibiotics. Its use in liquid chromatography for chemical analysis and research is important in checking the component parts of foods or pharmaceuticals, to test their safety or efficacy.
Given the complexity of producing acetonitrile directly, it is mainly obtained as a co-product from the acrylonitrile process. Acrylonitrile is extensively used in plastics for the manufacture of cars, appliances and electronic goods. The collapse of demand for these durable goods last year dramatically reduced production of acrylonitrile, which in turn led directly to a shortage of acetonitrile worldwide.
“INEOS Nitriles technology allows us far more flexibility to produce around 50 percent more acetonitrile during periods of weak acrylonitrile demand, without having to increase the production of acrylonitrile,” said Rob Nevin, CEO INEOS Nitriles. “This technology is a major breakthrough that has implications across a broad range of pharmaceutical, food and industrial processes. The resulting flexibility means we can increase acetonitrile production as demand increases, removing any concerns that our customers may have about security of supply in the future.”
The new technology is now operational at INEOS Nitriles U.S. plants in Lima, OH and Green Lake, TX and, with the assistance of key acetonitrile partners, has now been installed successfully on the Seal Sands facility in Teesside, the UK.