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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: May 29, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

U.S.-based Mylan Laboratories will acquire
Germany’s Merck KGaA’s generics unit for $6.6 billion.  Combining with Merck Generics will significantly extend Mylan’s range of therapeutic categories and dosage forms as well as bring a number of new, differentiated products and successful franchises to its mix.

New production line
PPG Industries will build a new production line to support business growth for Teslin synthetic printing sheet at the company’s Barberton, Ohio facility.  The unit should begin operation by the third quarter of 2008.  Teslin synthetic printing sheet is a silica-based product used in laminated cards, specialty print uses and pressure-sensitive labels.

Albemarle will move the operations of its Dayton, Ohio plant to its recently acquired pharmaceutical plant in South Haven, Michigan.  The move will enable the company to take advantage of overlapping equipment and staffing.  Albemarle expects to take a pre-tax charge of up to $5 million.

Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI) purchased two sites in India for producing pharmaceutical intermediates and active ingredients.  The Albany, New York-based firm is buying the sites for $11 million, with the deal including about 200 employees, products, facilities and additional land for expansion.  In the next three years, AMRI plans to invest about $15 million to expand capacity and bring the sites into compliance with FDA regulations for current Good Manufacturing Practices.

Removing toxic chemicals
Apple is setting out plans to eliminate toxic chemicals from its products by 2008.  The company is developing alternative materials in its aim to eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) completely by the end of 2008.

Cellulosic ethanol
The Department of Energy is set to publish a broad new plan to coordinate government and private sector efforts to achieve cost-effective cellulosic ethanol production within 10 years.  The roadmap will establish federal coordination of national agencies and private sector companies in the development of cellulosic ethanol science, deployment of successful technologies and work toward a nationwide fuel distribution system compatible with ethanol.  Later this year, as part of the plan, the Department of Energy will award several R&D centers to private firms in the biotech industry.

U.S. coverage
Akzo Nobel is buying Chemcraft Holdings, North America’s largest privately held industrial wood coatings producer.  The company has nine facilities in the U.S., Canada and Brazil, and in 2006 had revenues of $145 million.  Akzo Nobel is making the move to add scale and value in a number of key North American wood coatings markets.  The deal should be completed in the third quarter.

Clatyon, Missouri-based Olin has agreed to acquire Houston, Texas-based Pioneer Companies for $411 million.  With the acquisition, Olin will become the number three player in chlor-alkali and the number one player in industrial biotech in North America.  The deal is expected to close in the second half of this year and will result in at least $35 million of annual cost savings as well as immediately contribute to the company’s earnings.


SABIC will buy GE Plastics for $11.6 billion.  This acquisition is another step in SABIC’s growth and diversification to become one of the world’s leading manufacturing companies.   


Budget increase
Kuwait has doubled the budget for its new 615,000 barrels/day Al-Zour refinery to $12 billion.  New oil and gas projects, as well as downstream petrochemical plants, have faced an increase in costs on higher raw material prices and a shortage of labor and engineering delays as they attempt to introduce new capacity.

Technical center
Sartomer plans to open a 3,800 square-foot technical center in Yokohama, Japan in December.  The facility will include a research lab for developing new photocure materials for the electronics, plastics, optical media and flat-panel display industries in Asia.

Joint venture
Praxair and Yara are forming a 50-50 joint venture, comprising Yara’s existing industrial gases businesses located in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, resulting in a one-time net income of more than $116.5 million for Yara.  The joint venture will focus on enhancing the industrial gases business into new product segments and geographical areas.


Petrochemical complex
Kazakhstan’s energy and natural resources ministry has approved a feasibility study for a 1.2 million ton/year petrochemical complex in the Atyrau region.  KazMunaiGaz, the country’s state-owned oil and gas company, is expected to start construction of the $5.2 billion complex in December, with it coming on stream in three to five years.


Deal signed
Aramco and Dow Chemical have signed a detailed memorandum of understanding to build, own and operate the Ras Tanura integrated project valued at a minimum of $20 billion.  They are entering the final negotiation phase of the joint venture to run the massive chemicals and plastics production complex in eastern Saudi Arabia.  The project will be operationally integrated with Aramco’s 550,000 barrel/day refinery and its gas processing plant, which will supply feedstock and continue to be owned by the firm.  The project will produce both basic and performance products including ethylene, propylene, aromatic and chlorine derivatives.

Offshore gas field
PetroVietnam will invest $144.6 million to develop a new gas field offshore in South Vietnam.  The project includes nine wells and a hired gas tanker for the production of natural gas at the field.

PetroVietnam will invest $82.5 million in the Phuong Dong oil field in South Vietnam.  The field should be operational by the third quarter of 2008 and is expected to have commercial reserves of 36.3 million barrels of crude oil, 5.3 million barrels of condensate and 3.16 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

Akzo Nobel’s pulp and paper chemical business, Eka Chemicals, has signed an agreement to supply, store and handle all chemicals for a Greenfield pulp mill in Brazil.  Eka will invest $67 million in the project, resulting in an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tons/year of pulp.  The investment includes supplying, storing and handling at the Horizonte project and expanding of its existing site at Jundiai, Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The new production line at Jundiai will produce 30,000 tons/year of sodium chlorate, most of which will be fed into the mill, which is expected to start operations in 2009.

Technically Speaking

How can altitude affect the performance of a compressor?

"The altitude at which a compressor is installed must always be given consideration. As altitude above sea level increases, the weight of the earth’s atmosphere is less. This is reflected in the barometer and absolute intake pressure which decrease with altitude. This fact is well understood and allowed for with process compressors. It is not always considered with standard air compressors that are usually used for 100 psig service to operate pneumatic tools and rock drills. These are, at times moved from one site to another without thought as to original design conditions.

The horsepower formulae show that with decreased values of the absolute initial pressure, P1, the work will decrease. The value of the Compression Ratio increase if the discharge gauge pressure is kept the same as at lower altitude, but this has a smaller effect on the power than the decreased initial absolute pressure, so that at altitudes above sea level, the horsepower of compressing a given volume of air at atmospheric pressure decreases.

A given compressor’s ability to operate tools (or instruments) varies with the installation elevation. The effect of moving a 2-stage compressor (designed for sea level operation) to 10,000 feet altitude is shown in the table attached.

It will be noted that as the altitude increases,

1. The actual capacity at intake (column 4) decreases only slightly;
2. the dense air delivered to the tools decreases materially (columns 5 and 6); and,
3. The Brake Horsepower (Bhp) decreases materially. See the comments below.

Column 6 is the measure of the number of tools operable with this compressor as compared with sea level operation.

Altitude  (feet)
Atmos. Pressure (psia) Overall Compression Ratio Intake Capacity   (ft3/min) Capacity at 100 psig  (ft3/min) % of sea level Compressed air volume Bhp
0 14.7 7.80 1,000 128.0 100.0 187
2,000 13.66 8.32 995 119.7 93.5 179
4,000 12.68 8.89 990 111.5 87.1 171
6,000 11.77 9.50 985 103.9 81.2 163
8,000 10.91 10.17 980 95.5 75.4 156
10,000 10.10 10.90 975 89.4 69.8 149

The example is somewhat extreme since commercial sea level rated 2-stage reciprocating compressors are sold for operation only to 5,000 feet altitude. At higher altitudes, the low-pressure cylinder size has to be increased to provide greater inlet capacity and to bring the Bhp on the frame and running gear closer to normal values.

Single-stage reciprocating and other positive-displacement compressors are limited somewhat by the allowable compression ratio and discharge temperature. They frequently must be derated materially for altitude operation. The manufacturer should always be consulted when applying positive displacement compressors at altitudes far above sea level.

Although the power required by a given compressor falls as the altitude increases, the ability of engines and electric motors to safely develop this power usually falls even more rapidly. Therefore, the question of the suitability of a compressor and its driver for other than design altitude applications should be carefully discussed and consulted with the manufacturer."

Milton Beychok via Forums

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