BASF South Africa’s Port Elizabeth mobile emissions catalysts facility has produced its 50-millionth automotive catalyst for the catalytic converter industry, the company has announced.
The former Engelhard Corporation, which BASF acquired in 2006, pioneered the development of the first catalytic converters on 1975-model cars, and one year later introduced a second innovation: the modern three-way-catalyst, which is capable of destroying more than 90% of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) produced by car engines.
The Port Elizabeth business began producing automotive catalysts in September 1994 in leased space at the local Ford engine plant.
Validation of BASF’s Port Elizabeth plant was completed in January 1995, with two approved customers.
Increased demand led to capacity expansions until December 2001, when the business moved to a larger site in Struanway, where a new facility was established.
Today, BASF’s Port Elizabeth facility is equipped with high-speed, meter-charged coaters, used to manufacture diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters and three-way-catalysts.
Since inception, BASF’s three-way-catalyst technology has, on a global basis, destroyed more than a billion tons of HC, CO and NOx, says the company.
“The 50-million catalysts we have produced in Port Elizabeth have removed more than 35-million tons of pollutants from vehicles around the world,” adds BASF South Africa mobile emissions catalysts plant site director Dr Mike Tribelhorn.
The BASF group in South Africa consists of six companies with locations in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The group has also invested in a dispersions production plant in Durban, which will be producing acrylic dispersions as of the second half of 2012.
The local group’s portfolio includes chemicals, plastics, coatings, dispersions, agricultural products and nutrition.
Catalytic converters make up around 50% of South African vehicle component exports. Exports of the emission control component increased 21% in 2010 over 2009.
Total component exports from South Africa were up an estimated 12% in 2010, reaching R30-billion.