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christa.jpg (5628 bytes) Chemical Industry News Editor Christa Semko
Every two weeks, Christa will bring you the latest chemical industry news from around the world.  If you have a press release that you'd like to share with us, please mail it to us through our online contact form here.

Dateline: January 9, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

Unit Sold

Smithers-Oasis Co., a privately held maker of floral foam, has acquired Floralife Inc. from AgroFresh, Inc., a subsidiary of Rohm & Haas Co., for an undisclosed amount.  Floralife makes flower care products for the floral industry, which will complement Smithers-Oasis’ product lines.  Floral foam is a water-absorbing foam that lets florists hydrate flowers while securing them in desired arrangements.  The acquisition was made to maintain Smithers-Oasis’ present position in the worldwide floral foam market while expanding its post-harvest offerings.  The company plans to continue operating Floralife as a wholly owned subsidiary.


Private Placement

Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. (CDT) has secured commitments totaling $9.5 million in gross proceeds from new and existing individual and institutional shareholders as well as directors and company management to go private, resulting in it issuing an aggregate of seven million separate units of common stock and warrants at a price of $1.35/unit.  CDT is a developer of chemical and technological solutions to reduce harmful engine emissions.  The proceeds of the financing will provide working capital, predominantly for the continued commercialization and protection of the company’s core technologies and products.  Currently, units are being issued as shares of common stock as well as Class A and Class B Warrants.  The Class A Warrants will entitle the holder until July 2, 2007 to purchase, at a price of $2.00/share, one share of common stock for every two shares acquired in the offering.  The Class B Warrants will entitle the holder until December 29, 2007 to purchase, at a price of $2.50/share, one share of common stock for every two shares acquired in the offering.  After completion of this financing, Clean Diesel will have 33.2 million common shares outstanding.  The company intends to file a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following completion of the audit of the company’s 2006 financial statements.


Communities Sue Over Lead Paint

Canton, Ohio has joined several other Ohio communities in suing companies that one manufactured lead paint, saying that the companies knew they were selling a toxic product for years.  Defendants include Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams Co. as well as several other companies that years ago manufactured lead-based paint.  The paint makers are already being sued by Toledo, East Cleveland, Cincinnati, Lancaster and Columbus.  The companies claim they should not be held responsible for practices that were legal and the time, and in an effort to block litigation, Sherwin-Williams has filed a federal lawsuit against the cities and any others that might sue.  Canton’s lawsuit claims the industry knew lead was toxic as early as 1900, but continued to add the metal to paint and even promoted the product as having health benefits.  Canton wants the companies to pay for the removal of lead paint and for public education about its dangers in addition to reimbursing the city for lead-related spending.  Lead paint was banned by the federal government in 1978 after studies showed that children who eat or breathe flaking paint or dust could suffer severe and potentially fatal health problems, including brain damage and behavioral disorders, however, the paint still turns up in many older buildings.  In 2006, a Rhode Island jury found Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and Millennium Holdings liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing and selling a toxic product.


Praxair Distribution, a division of Praxair Canada, acquired Blue Rhino’s Canadian propane tank-exchange business.  The acquisition included more than 900 propane tank-exchange display cages at retail locations throughout Canada.


Chemical Regulation

Canada’s government has unveiled a Chemicals Management Plan to take immediate action to regulate chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment.  The plan is part of a comprehensive environmental agenda which includes a Clean Air Act, support for public transit and action on renewable fuels.  Canada will invest C$300 million during the next four years to implement the plan.  The plan includes a number of measures to make sure that chemical substances are managed properly.


Up For Sale

Solutia is considering two options to reorganizing and emerging from bankruptcy: the potential sale of its equity to a third party or granting bondholders shares in the company.  Likely bidders would be private equity firms, according to investment bankers.  The company does not have a preference for either option – the only focus is to maximize the value of the estate for its creditors.


R&D Capability Boosted

Air Products has increased its research and development (R&D) capabilities in Asia to meet rising demand there.  The company has added state-of-the-art equipment in Taiwan and South Korea to support the development of the advanced integrated circuit industry.  The recent expansion in Taiwan includes a new general chemical lab to conduct chemical screening and process tubing as well as extra office space for additional staff.

MDI Capacity Expansion

BASF will expand the capacity of its methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) in Antwerp, Belgium to keep up with global demand.  The facility will be expanded from 450,000 tons/year to 560,000 tons/year in the second quarter of 2007.  In addition, the company will build two plants for the MDI precursors aniline (180,000 tons/year) and mononitrobenzene (280,000 tons/year) to go on stream with the MDI expansion.  Growing global demand is largely driven by MDI-based insulating materials as well as sandwich plate systems and binders to reinforce dikes.

Oil Production

Reliance Industries Ltd. will begin crude oil production at its offshore D-6 block in the Bay of Bengal by the first quarter of 2008.  The company has filed a development plan for the MA-1 and MA-2 oil finds, envisaging production of about 40,000 barrels/day of oil by February 2008.  Further plans include a floating production, storage and offloading vessel to be installed by October 2008 to help boost output to 50,000 barrels/day.  According to the current estimates, the block may hold around 50 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.


Punjab Chemicals & Crop Protection Ltd. will acquire Argentina’s Sintesis Quimica SA for $10 million.  The acquisition will be done by SD Agchem (Europe) NV, a 100% subsidiary of the company based in Belgium.  As a result, Sintesis Quimica will become the subsidiary of SD Agchem (Europe).  Sintesis Quimica has two manufacturing facilities on the outskirts of Buenos Aires engaged in agro chemicals, formulations and industrial products.

LNG Plant Recovery

Sonatrach and Delair Navarra have received the contract to demolish and recover the remains of Skikda’s petrochemical complex’s three gas liquefaction plants in Algeria.  The three plants were blown out by an explosion in January 2004 that left 26 people dead and 74 wounded.  The plants were used to liquefy natural gas that was then exported to Europe.  As a result of the blast, LNG production at the plants declined 76% during 2004.


Targeting Global Specialty Automotive Sector

Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL), one of the world’s largest producers of premium quality aluminum, is focused on the $34-billion global specialty automotive sector as part of its strategy to seek out niche markets in order to achieve growth in diversified sectors.  At the recently held Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, company officials gauged the requirements of the clientele and the market.  As part of its continuing expansion program, DUBAL recently expanded facilities at its two potlines – Potline 7 and 9 B, increasing the production capacity by 100,000 tons/year to a total of 861,000 tons/year at a cost of $280 million.


Chemical Spill

BASF’s largest UK plant, Teesside, had a major leak of 4.5 tons of hexamethylenediamine, known as HMD, that injured 37 workers, two of whom were injured seriously.  Hospital officials have said that the condition of the two men is improving, so state officials say the spill caused little harm.  The investigation to the cause of the spill continues with the Health and Safety Executive and the plant is remaining closed to allow investigators access to the accident site.  HMD is used in the manufacture of a range of plastics and is corrosive and can be hazardous in high concentrations.

Partnership Expanded

Innospec has signed two agreements with Petron to expand the scope of the companies’ strategic partnership and create new opportunities for Innospec to better serve the Asia-Pacific region.  Petron will construct and operate a new blending plant in Subic Bay Freeport to serve the fuel additives requirements of Innospec’s regional customers, with Petron serving as Innospec’s exclusive toll blender in the region.  Innospec will also continue supplying Petron with customized fuel additives for the domestic market.


Sale Completed

Huntsman Chemical Company Australia (HCCA) has sold its polyester resins (composites) business assets to Nuplex Industries for A$9.6 million in cash plus the value of inventory and other stock in trade at the completion date, for a total transaction of A$20.3 million.  The assets include HCAA’s polyesters, vinylesters and gelcoats manufacturing.  Annual sales from the business are approximately A$53 million.

Technically Speaking

For a heat exchanger, will the overall heat transfer coefficient increase along with an increase in LMTD (log mean temperature difference) around the unit?

The overall heat transfer coefficient is generally weakly dependent on temperature. As the temperatures of the fluids change, the degree to which the overall heat transfer coefficient will be affected depends on the sensitivity of the fluid's viscosity to temperature.

If both fluids are water, for example, the overall heat transfer coefficient won't vary much with temperature because water's viscosity doesn't change dramatically with temperature. If, however, one of the fluids is oil which may have a viscosity of 1000 cP at 50 °F and 5 cP at 400 °F, then indeed the overall heat transfer coefficient would be much better at higher temperatures since the oil side would be limiting.

Realize that the overall heat transfer coefficient is dictated by the local heat transfer coefficients and the wall resistances of the heat exchanger. The local heat transfer coefficients are dictated by the fluid's physical properties and the velocity of the fluid through the exchanger. So, for a given heat exchanger, fluid flow rates, and characteristics of each fluid....the area of the exchanger and the overall heat transfer coefficients are fixed (theoretically the overall heat transfer coefficient does vary slightly along the length of the exchanger with temperature as I've noted and the U-value will decrease over time with fouling). But, if the inlet temperatures of the fluids change, the heat duty (Q) is where variable that will change with it for the most part.

For example, for an installed heat exchanger, if the LMTD or log mean temperature difference increases or decreases based on temperature variations of the fluids, then a given, fixed exchanger will simply transfer more heat (for a larger LMTD) or less heat (for a small LMTD). In short, temperature difference is the "driving force" which determines how much heat is transferred. If the LMTD decreases, but you want to keep Q the same, then you have two choice: increase the heat transfer area or find a way to increase the overall heat transfer coefficient (U-value) via heat transfer enhancement or a different heat exchanger technology.

Again, with an increased temperature, the viscosity of the fluids will decrease (to what degree depends on the fluids), so there would technically be an increase in the U-value, but often times, it won't be substantial.

For more information on heat exchangers:

Basics of Industrial Heat Transfer
Correlations for Convective Heat Transfer

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