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Development of an optimal catalyst for the production of polycarbonate grade bisphenol a

The aim is to develop a new optimal catalyst for the
production of high-purity bisphenol a, which is colour-
stable at high temperatures. This intermediate feedstock is
used to manufacture the highest grade polycarbonate resins.

The purpose of this project is to develop an optimal catalyst and new process for the production of bisphenol A offering the quality parameters applicable in the manufacture of colourless polycarbonate resins. Bisphenol A makes a basic feedstock for the production of epoxy resins, polycarbonate resins, unsaturated polyester resins, polyacrylates, polyesters as well as other plastics with special performance properties. The quality demanded from bisphenol A to be employed in the production of polycarbonates is forecasted to become much more stringent before long. Apart from other factors, these high quality requirements result from developing a new polycarbonate synthesis process which is based on the transesterification reaction between diaryl- or dialkyl carbonate and bisphenol A. This reaction takes place after the feedstocks have been melted, at 200-300 degrees C, and thus it is very important that bisphenol A should offer high-purity (above 99.9%) and its colour should be as light as possible and stable at high temperatures. [1-3] The condensation reaction of phenol and acetone involves the presence of acid catalysts. At present, strongly acidic ion-exchange resins are predominantly used as catalysts. [4-5] The process for the manufacture of top quality bisphenol A is owned and such a material is produced by GENERAL ELECTRIC (USA). The equivalent high-tech process is also utilised by CHYIODA (JAPAN). The European producers - DOW, BAYER and SHELL - cannot produce bisphenol A with such a high purity. The existing processes utilise promoters like mercaptan compounds which are added to the reaction medium to improve the productivity of the ion-exchange catalysts and to reduce the volumes of impurities formed. [6] These admixtures, however, have some disadvantages like toxicity and unpleasant odour. Thus, more advantageous is to use catalysts in which the promoter is firmly bonded to the cation exchanger. The compounds with amino- and mercaptan groups can be utilised as promoters for this process. [7-8] The 'BLACHOWNIA' INSTITUTE OF HEAVY ORGANIC SYNTHESIS (ICSO) has for many years been researching the bisphenol A process which employs ion-exchange resins as catalysts. In late 1970's, the 'BLACHOWNIA' CHEMICAL WORKS built a 10,000 MTPA bisphenol A and the licence for the process was provided by ICSO. The process was also licenced to TAIWAN (20,000 MTPA), INDIA (5,000 MTPA), CHINA (10,000 MTPA) and recently IRAN (30,000 MTPA). Research work has been carried out at ICSO since 1995 with the aim of developing a new process wherein the latest promoted catalysts will be employed which are capable of yielding bisphenol A with very high purity. [5, 9, 10]. The performance of these new catalysts is verified at ICSO in bench scale and laboratory pilot plant tests, in close co-operation with the producers of ion-exchange resins. Up to now only commercial available cation exchangers have been investigated. In this project we will focus on the new, especially developed and prepared catalysts. The main aim of the planned project is developing an optimal catalyst, with firmly bonded promoter, and a new process of bisphenol A production with the use of this catalyst. The new bisphenol A process will be competitive to GENERAL ELECTRIC (USA) and CHYIODA (JAPAN) processes. Good results were recently obtained when the ion-exchange resins from The PUROLITE Company were employed as catalysts. The experience of the CENTRE OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY (CCO) in developing processes using supported promoters (11-14) allows a wider range of solutions that will enrich the project. The CCO team will work closely with VIROLITE, the local branch of THE FUROLITE COMPANY. The goal of this new added partnership will be the development of a tailored catalyst derived from the main products of VIROLITE. The catalysts obtained both from PUROLITE and CCO will be verified by ICSO. The following subject areas are planned: - in co-operation with PUROLITE, ion-exchange resins will be selected or produced especially for ICSO; then ICSO will apply various promoter compounds on these resins. The catalysts obtained will be tested in bench scale equipment and in laboratory pilot plants; The yield and selectivity of the reaction and product colour will be investigated. - improving analytical methods applicable in the synthesis of bisphenol A and in evaluation of the catalysts employed. - Additional research and testing will be performed by CCO in co-operation with VIROLITE for the modification of selected resins. Potential catalysts will need supplementary laboratory testing, and if promising results are obtained pilot scale tests will be performed. Further research will be carried out at CCO with the use of selected catalysts to ensure adequate technical end economical scale-up at VIROLITE. The catalyst synthesis equipment at CCO will be tailored according to the necessities of the project. It is planned to purchase the spare parts necessary for the synthesis equipment. The catalysts will be investigated at ICSO on the laboratory and pilot scale. Selected catalysts are evaluated in special continuous equipment purchased by ICSO. The post-reaction mixtures and bisphenol A will be analysed at ICSO, and the catalyst will be analysed by ICSO, PUROLITE, VIROLITE and CCO. The above activities will result in developing a new process capable of yielding bisphenol A with the quality required for the manufacture of polycarbonates in melt. References: 1. D. Freitag, G. Fengler, L. Morbitzer, Agnew. Chem., Int.Ed.Engl., 30, 1598 (1991). 2. Kirk-Othmer, Encyclopaedia of Chemical Technology, 4th Ed. V.19, 584-608, J. Wiley, New York 1996. 3. W. Uerdingen, Kunststoffe, 83, 760 (1993). 4. US Patent 3049569 (1962). 5. M. Kiedik, J. Ko³t, Pol. Techn. Rev., 1994 (5-6), 20. 6. US Patent 5315042 (1995), European Patent 342758 A1 (1989). 7. German Patent 4312039 (1994), German Patent 3727641 (1989). 8. European Patent 676237 A1 (1995), European Patent 583712 A2 (1992). 9. M. Kiedik et al., ICSO unpublished works. 10. M. Kiedik, presentation at WUXI RESIN FACTORY, CHINA, May 1998. 11. D.M. Vuluga, D. Donescu, Synthetic Polymer Journal, 3, 2-3, (1994), 196. 12. D.M. Vuluga et al., Roum. Cham. Quart. Reviews, 6, 4, (1998), 293. 13. D.M. Vuluga et al., V-th French-Romanian Symposium on Polymers, 81-3, Timisoata, 2001. 14. D.M. Vuluga et al., Polymer Bulleting, 47, (2002), 399. Keywords: bisphenol A, catalyst, process.
Acronym: 
CAT-BPA
Project ID: 
2 503
Start date: 
01-01-2001
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
550 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.