PTA has the form of a white, crystalline powder and looks like powdered sugar. It is quite inert, which means that, for example, it is difficult to dissolve in water or other liquids. PTA is an aromatic acid, primarily applied in the production of polyester. The main raw material for PTA is paraxylene (PX).
The Geel site has been producing PX locally since 2000 and provides a large part of the PTA manufacturing need for this raw material. The remainder of the necessary PX is imported from elsewhere.
When Amoco Chemicals Belgium was established in 1967, the production of PTA (purified terephthalic acid) had already been planned. In 1969, the first PTA unit (PTA1) came on line and in 1991 the second one (PTA2) followed. One year later, PTA1 was converted so that it could also produce PIA (purified isophthalic acid). In 2004, the global PIA business was sold to Flint Hills Resources, which decided to close the Geel unit in 2011. In 1998, PTA3 came on line. In 2001, the PTA3 capacity was increased to 650,000 ton per annum. In 2009, another PTA expansion program led to an overall annual production capacity of 1.4 million tonnes. In 2014, the Indian company JBF started production of PET on a field next to the BP plant in Geel. The PET factory uses a lot of the Geel PTA production.
The Geel BP site is Europe's most important producer of purified terephthalic acid. Other BP PTA production units are in North America and Asia. BP is one ot the word leaders in PTA production. Proprietary technology allows BP to produce high-quality PTA at low cost.
The largest application for PTA is in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for the polyester industry to produce PET-bottles, textiles, film and moulded product applications.PET, the most common polyester, has many advantages, including clarity, beneficial electrical properties as well as resistance to chemicals and weathering. Here are some of the applications:
Fibres command the bulk of today's polyester market. PET is the mainstay of easy-care blend fabrics either mixed with cotton or wool or with other natural and synthetic fabrics. Polyester fibres, based on PTA, offer economy, comfortable fashion and crease resistance in all types of clothing and fabrics for home furnishings.
PET monofilament is popular in sewing thread, conveyor belts and meshing. Other PET fibres provide high strength, durability and resistance to environmental degradation in tyre cord, fire hosing and other demanding applications. PTA-based aramid fibres, for example, have a strength to weight ratio of up to five times greater than steel. Aramids are also the basis for soft body armour, safety clothing and industrial cable. Composites reinforced with aramid fibres provide toughness and light weight for sporting goods, boat hulls and aerospace parts.
PET is being used for a multitude of films, labels and other sheet material are typical polyester applications. PTA helps provide outstanding dimensional stability, adaptable surface and good resistance properties to meet the demands of these applications. PET is also used in a variety of wrapping and strapping tapes.
The high purity of BP's PTA helps assure reliable performance of polymers in insulating applications. PTA-based polyester and polyamide (nylon), electrical insulating tapes and films as well as varnishes for magnet wire offer chemical, electrical and thermal resistance.
Polyester powder coatings offer the environmental advantages of solvent-free coatings along with excellent flexibility, adhesion, and impact resistance. They also show outstanding gloss and weather resistance for applications such as lawn furniture, outdoor equipment, and automotive parts.
Reinforced with glass or other fibres, resins based on PTA provide mechanical, thermal and electrical properties for automotive parts and electrical appliance housings
PTA is used to manufacture light-coloured adhesives to bond metal, wood, paper and synthetics. Specific uses for these high-strength, solvent-free adhesives include shoe fabrication, lamination and automotive sub-assembly.