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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 26, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

Outage Extended
Celanese hopes to restart its 1.2 million ton/year
Clear Lake, Texas acetic acid plant by mid-July.  The delay, resulting from failed start attempts, requires Celanese to extend its force majeure declaration of May 14, expanding it to include additional acetyl derivatives.  The plant was shut down on May 11 due to a reactor leak and Celanese had hoped to return it to service by the end of May.


The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog organization, announced that the Case Vander Eyk dairy near Fresno, California was found to be operating outside organic law and was therefore shutdown.  The 10,000-cow feedlot dairy lost its ability to ship organic milk in May when it received a suspension notice from Quality Assurance International, its USDA-accredited certifier.  The suspension was enforced due to questions surrounding record-keeping regarding the assurance of organic practices.

Plant Closure

Cabot will close its carbon black plant in Waverley, West Virginia.  The closure is due to changes in the global tire manufacturing industry.  The plant will be closed next March, with customer shipments scheduled to continue through the middle of 2008.


New Facility

DuPont is building a 100 million pound/year titanium tetrachloride plant in New Johnsonville, Tennessee.  The $30 million facility should begin operations next summer.

Facility Phase Out

FMC will phase out operations at its Baltimore, Maryland agriculture facility by March.  The move is being made because of the need for lower-cost manufacturing sites.  Products currently sourced from Baltimore will be provided by FMC partners.


Joint Venture Transfer
Huntsman has agreed to take over Basic Chemical Industries Ltd.s majority ownership in their Arabian Polyol Company (APC) joint venture in
Saudi Arabia.  The joint venture manufactures and sells MDI-based polyurethane systems in the Gulf countries.  With the ownership transfer, the company will be re-named to Huntsman APC.  It will be based at the existing Dammam site on Saudi Arabias east coast, supported by a Huntsman sales office in Dubai.

Agreement Reached
Finlands chemical workers have agreed to a pay deal that includes an initial lump-sum payment and stepped wage increases over 33 months.  A blanket wage increase of 3.4% will take effect in October, followed by a 2.9% increase in September 2008 and then a 1.5% increase in May 2009.  This agreement covers 20,000 core workers, but is expected to trigger similar settlements with industries connected with chemicals.

Joint Venture
Iran is still planning to form a joint venture with India to run an olefins project.  The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) says that plans to do a petrochemicals joint venture with India have been in the works for several years.  Discussions have been underway, with Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) likely to be the joint venture candidate.


FCI acquired Smartag, a specialized player in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags manufacturing.  Located in Singapore, Smartag develops RFID tags for focused applications like library management, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc.  With this acquisition, FCI can offer its customers solutions from antenna design to tag manufacturing for certain high-engineering asset tracking applications.

Output Cut

Methanex is operating only one of its four Chilean plants as problems at its suppliers in Argentina have disrupted natural gas supply.  A labor dispute affected one natural gas supplier while another supplier is currently doing technical testing. 

Growth Potential
Akzo Nobel is accelerating its growth in China.  It just opened two coatings plants in Langfang and Taixing and is planning further expansions.  It is also investing in its plant in Ningbo and aims to implement two or three additional projects at the site in the next few years.  The company expects to double its investments in China to $1 billion during the next five years.

MDI Plant

BASF may build a second MDI plant in China.  It has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Chongqing Chemical and Pharmaceutical Holding for a 400,000 ton/year crude MDI plant in Chongqing, western China.  BASF will now carry out an in-depth evaluation of the competitiveness of the location, with startup planned for 2010 or later.

Vinyl Complex

Egypts Trust Chemical Industries (TCI), owned by Indias Sanmar Group, plans to start up its integrated vinyl complex in Port Said, Egypt in 2009.  The complex will produce 200,000 tons/year of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), 400,000 tons/year of VCM (vinyl chloride monomer) and 200,000 tons/year of EDC (ethylene dichloride).  About 200,000 tons/year of VCM will be used by the PVC plant.  The remaining 200,000 tons/year of VCM will be shipped to India to feed a 200,000 ton/year PVC project that Chemplast Sanmar will start up in Cuddalore in July 2008.

Technically Speaking

What are some characteristics of bulk solids that can affect their ability to flow properly?

Four (4) main factors to consider include: moisture content, temperature, particle size (and shape), and time at rest.

An increase in moisture content will generally make solids more "sticky". Some solids will absorb moisture from the air, which is why nitrogen is often used as a carrier gas (among other reasons).

For some solids, their ability to flow can be adversely impacted by temperature or even the length of time that the particles are exposed to a specific temperature. For example, soybean meal flows nicely at 90 F but start to form large bridges at 100 F.

Generally, the finer a bulk solid becomes, the more cohesive the particles. Round particles are generally easier to handle than "stringy" or oddly shaped particles.

As particles rest in a bin, they can compact together from their own weight. This can create strong bonds between the particles. Often times, re-initiating flow can break these bonds and the solids will flow as normal, but this can depend on the load at given locations in the bin.

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