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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: June 12, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

Biodiesel plant
BioSelect Fuels and Chevron have opened their joint biodiesel plant in Galveston, Texas.  The plant is one of the first large-scale biodiesel production facilities in North America.  The plant, currently in production, has an initial capacity of 20 million gallons/year, but can easily be expanded to 100 million gallons/year.

New plant
Degussa will build a $10 million rigid polymethacrylimide foam plant in Mobile, Alabama.  The plant should be online by the middle of 2008 and will produce Rohacell, which is used in the aerospace industry, in helicopter rotors, as well as in skis.

Ethanol joint venture
A Mexican labor group, the cane workers’ association at Chontalpa in Tabasco, and Frings, a German biotech company, plan to build a 33,000 ton/year ethanol plant in southern Mexico, and may later build a 140,000 ton unit.  Construction on the first plant will begin in October and if other associations join in, they plan to start building the larger unit the following September.  The ethanol produced by the joint venture would be sold to Frings.

Industrial Products acquired Ohio Soap Products, an industrial cleaning products manufacturer.  The privately owned company is estimated to have had annual sales of more than $100 million.

AstraZeneca has acquired DSM Biologics’ manufacturing plant in Montreal, Canada.  AstraZeneca will start to re-commission the facility immediately and expects to start full-scale production by 2009.  The facility has 66,000 square feet and will be used to manufacture antibody drug candidates for clinical trials, serving the whole of the AstraZeneca group.


Chemical facility
GE Water & Process Technologies will build a water treatment chemical manufacturing facility in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.  The 10,000 ton/year plant will include chemical and equipment storage space, a water treatment laboratory and commercial office space.  The facility will open late this year.

Huntsman has completed the mechanical component of its first Asia-Pacific polyetheramines plant and expects to introduce feedstock in mid-June with commercial operations beginning by the third quarter.  The $40 million plant in Jurong Island, Singapore, has an annual capacity of 15,000 tons of polyetheramines.  The plant will produce using Huntsman’s proprietary amine technology.

Up for sale
Bain Capital has put Netherlands-based paints and coatings firm SigmaKalonon up for sale.  Likely bidders include PPG Industries, ICI, Sherwin-Williams as well as Berkshire Hathaway.  SigmaKalonon is a worldwide player in decorative, marine, protective and industrial coatings.  It currently employs around 10,000 in 40 different countries, focusing mainly on the European, Asian and African markets.  In 2006, the company had sales of more than $2.6 billion.

Carlyle Group has agreed to acquire specialty inorganic chemicals, catalysts and engineered glass company PQ Corp. for $5.1 billion from CCMP Capital Advisors.

Pigments and percarbonates
Finland-based Kemira plans to sell its pigments and sodium percarbonate operations so that it can focus on its core businesses of pulp and paper, water and coatings.  The organic acid and derivatives operation, ChemSolutions, which is currently part of the company’s specialty chemical division, will become a part of the pulp and paper segment on July 1.  The company hopes to complete the sale and restructuring by the end of the year.

France’s Air Liquide has signed two agreements with Russia’s Mikron.  The first deal with Mikron, Russia’s largest semiconductor manufacturing company, involves a long-term contract for carrier gases.  The second covers the sale of equipment and the turnkey installation of electronic specialty gases and various materials.  This makes Air Liquide the first gas solutions provider to Russia’s new semiconductor industry.

Billionaire investor George Soros is planning to help finance a $900 million ethanol project in southwestern Brazil with his own funds.  This project involves the construction of three ethanol plants in Mato Grosso do Sul, with production being able to reach 1 billion liters/year in five years. 

Joint venture
Coal gasification company Synthesis Energy Systems has entered into a joint venture to build to plants in Inner Mongolia, China.  One plant will produce 84,000 m3/hour of synthesis gas to be used as feedstock for the second plant.  The second plant will produce 225,000 tons/year of methanol and 150,000 tons/year of dimethyl ether.

Technically Speaking

What could be considered the definition of "good" cooling tower water?

Generally speaking, cooling tower water should have a pH between 6 and 8, a chloride content no more than 750 ppm, a sulfate content (SO4) below 1200 ppm, and a sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) content below 200 ppm. Additionally, cooling tower water should not be heated past 120 °F to avoid plating out of treatment chemicals in process coolers.

Also, if free chlorine is used for biological growth control, it should be added intermittently with a free residual not to exceed 1 ppm and this should be maintained for short periods.

Cooling Tower Fundamentals, SPX Cooling Technologies

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