The German chemicals firm will build the plant in Geismar, Louisiana and predicts that when it is fully operational in 2014 the site will produce around 50,000 tons of formic acid each year.
BASF said: “It will be the only formic acid production plant in North America and will allow BASF to better serve strategic markets in North and South America including applications for pharmaceuticals, energy, animal nutrition, leather and cleaning products.”
Formic acid is used in in the production of various chemicals in a wide variety of sector - from food and animal feed to cleaning and oil refining. Its primary application in the pharmaceutical industry is as an intermediate in the production of compounds like caffeine, various enzymes used in bioproduction and some antibiotics.
BASF operates two other formic acid production plants –in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Nanjing, China – and will be able to make around 255,000 tons of the compound when the US facility is up and running in 2014.