Woodchem produces various urea formaldehyde (UF) resins for the panel industry, and is the largest producer of wood panel resins in Africa. It also supplies formaldehyde into more than 30 different industries in South Africa.

Products and uses

Formaldehyde gas is manufactured through a continuous process of catalytic oxidation of methanol and absorption of the gas in liquid. It is then further processed into UF resin for use primarily in the timber panel industry. Formaldehyde is used to produce various formaldehyde-based resins, syrups and intermediate products that are used in products such as firelighters, toilet disinfectant, paints and panel wood products.

Woodchem plant expansion

The Woodchem production facility in Piet Retief is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, producing 100 677 tonnes of UF resin annually. In December 2014 a pressurisation fan was installed at the plant, which increased UF resin production capacity by 9.7%. Storage facilities at the plant were also increased with an additional 500 m3 of resin storage capacity.

UF is produced in a continuous-flow process using methanol and oxygen. Air extracted from the atmosphere contains the oxygen that reacts with the methanol through a catalytic oxidation system to produce formalin (the base product for formaldehyde and UF). The methanol reacts with the oxygen at a concentration level of 11%. In order to increase the methanol flow, and ultimately the final product, a greater volume of oxygen had to be added to the system to ensure a consistent concentration level and methanol conversion rate.

A turbo charger (pressurisation fan) was installed in the continuous-flow system, enabling the plant to extract a higher volume of air from the atmosphere to maintain the required level of oxygen concentration. The increased volume of air directly increased the volume of methanol being processed, which ultimately enabled the factory to produce at higher volumes. The extra 3 700 tons of methanol consumed allowed an additional 10 600 tons of resin to be produced per annum.

Contact information

Farm Vroegveld
Piet Retief 2380

Tel: +27 17 826 8600
Fax: +27 17 826 8610

Products and services
Formaldehyde and UF resin
Primarily used in the timber panel industry
Impregnated paper
Primarily used in the timber panel industry to manufacture MFB
Value-adding process

A paper impregnation plant was commissioned in November 2015. With an annual capacity of 80 million m2 this plant is the first of its kind in Africa. Approximately 45% of the production from the plant is used to supply KAP’s timber division, PG Bison to upgrade their panel wood products.

The plant consists of two paper impregnation lines, each having a designed capacity to produce treated paper at a speed of 55 metres per minute.

Raw décor paper rolls are treated in separate stages with different additives to produce paper laminates. These laminates are then cut according to the dimensions specified by board manufacturing companies that produce the upgraded wood panels for use in kitchens, bathrooms and many other household applications.

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