Butanediol (BDO), THF, GBL process

Johnson Matthey is the leading technology provider for butanediol plants worldwide.

The DAVY™ butanediol process can produce in a single reaction train, varying ratios of three products; 1,4 butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma butyrolactone (GBL). This flexible process uses maleic anhydride, which can be obtained by the oxidation of butane or benzene, as the feedstock. This allows our licensees to rapidly respond to market conditions to manufacture high quality products for the polymers and solvents industries. The use of low-cost raw materials provides a more economical process.

Maleic anhydride is esterified using our proprietary reaction column and a solid esterification catalyst to form a di-methyl maleate intermediate ester which is then hydrogenated in the vapour phase to produce a mixture of BDO, THF and GBL. By varying the operating conditions and catalyst exposure the ratio between BDO and THF can be changed to suit market conditions. The GBL is always produced and can be either recycled or extracted as required.

We have developed a product refining system which yields high quality product BDO used primarily in the production of engineering resins such as PBT and UPR, THF used primarily in the production of PTMEG for spandex fibres and GBL used primarily in the production of solvents such as NMP.

Johnson Matthey's use of an esterification step prior to hydrogenation has transformed BDO production. The benefits of this innovation are numerous, from reduced capital costs to milder, safer operating conditions and improved conversion.

There is currently a lot of interest in using BDO to make biodegradable plastics, such as PBAT and PBS. Johnson Matthey's technology also offers a bio-route to BDO, THF and GBL via succinic acid, which is typically made from bio-mass feedstock.

Revamp design to improve plant performance

Johnson Matthey also offer revamp designs to improve BDO plant performance. We can engineer a variety of solutions to increase capacity or improve process efficiency. Alongside this, we are also able to offer plant repurposing. A DAVY BDO plant can be converted to make bio-BDO, natural detergent alcohols or even hexanediol

For further information on the DAVY butanediol process please contact us. 

Get in touch

Licensed processes team