In 1976, the same year as the introduction of the ban on the use of lead compounds as antiknock agents in benzene, Chemische Werke Hüls AG launched MTBE for use in lead-free gasoline. In the first year of production alone, the Marl plant produced 50,000 metric tons. MTBE stands for methyl-tertiary-butylether. It is a clear, colorless liquid that is miscible, in any ratio, with all organic solvents and hydrocarbons.
Today, the product is manufactured and sold under the brand name DRIVERON by Evonik Oxeno GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Evonik Industries, in Marl and Antwerp.
Used as an antiknock additive in fuels for spark ignition engines, MTBE produces a significant increase in the octane number and, as an oxygenate, helps to optimize combustion in the engine. At Marl Chemical Park, production of Ethylbuthylether (ETBE) started in 2005, which derives from an alternative source, bio-alcohol. The annual production of ETBE is 250,000 metric tons. The equal quantity of MTBE is produced in Antwerp.