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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: October 30, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

Helium Plant

Air Products and Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. will jointly build and operate a liquid helium production plant near Big Piney, Wyoming.  The plant will be designed to produce 200 million standard cubic feet/year at start-up with expectations for future capacity expansion.  The plant will process crude helium produced by a natural gas processing facility owned by Cimarex Energy Co. and Riley Ridge LLC.  Production is expected to begin in 2009.

Production Shutdown

Basell will stop producing polypropylene at its Varennes, Quebec facility in April 2008.  The plant will continue with normal operations until that time.


Eastman Chemical Co. will invest approximately $100 million to transform its Calhoun County, South Carolina facility.  Projects include the conversion of an existing polymer line to add specialty co-polyester production to the site, transformation from dimethyl teraphthalate (DMT) to purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production to create an integrated PTA-based polymer site and other infrastructure investments.  In addition, the investment will go toward increasing the capacity of the site’s IntegRex technology polymer production by at least 50%.  The projects are underway and are expected to be completed in 2008.


Dow Building Solutions will reconfigure its polyisocyanurate (polyiso) assets in North America.  As a result, its Charleston, Illinois and Pennsauken, New Jersey sites are positioned for growth and technology upgrades while its Texarkana, Arkansas and Tracy, California plants will be closed.  The Arkansas and California plants produce rigid polyiso foam insulation for general insulation applications.  Low asset utilization, low profitability and the need for significant investment compared to other opportunities were key drives for the decision to close these sites.  The California facility will run through mid December and the Texas facility into mid January.


KMG Chemicals, Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquired High-Purity Process Chemicals (HPPC) from Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. for $74.6 million.  HPPC is the largest U.S. supplier of high purity process chemicals to semiconductor manufacturers.  Its products are used to clean, etch and otherwise prepare the surface of semiconductor products.  The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.  The acquisition includes a production facility and warehouse in Pueblo, Colorado as well as potentially a manufacturing facility and warehouse near Milan, Italy that services HPCC’s current European customers.

Plant Closure

Americhem Inc. will close its manufacturing operation in Salisbury, Maryland.  As a result, the polymer products colors and additives manufacturer will be expanding its plants in Concord, North Carolina and Mansfield, Texas by 10 – 20%.  The Maryland plant closure should be completed by April.


PPG Industries has acquired portions of Coatings Resource Corporation (CRC), including inventory, accounts receivable, key sales and technical personnel, selected equipment, formulations and customer lists.  CRC produces paints, lacquers and varnishes as well as injectable colorants, blowing agents, processing aids, UV stabilizers and antioxidants.  CRC’s manufacturing plant in Huntington Beach, California will not be acquired by PPG but will continue manufacturing products for PPG for the foreseeable future.


Plant Expansion

Basell will de-bottleneck its 45 kilotons/year PB-1 plant in Moerdijk, The Netherlands, to increase its capacity to 67 kilotons/year in 2008.  Basell’s PB-1 products, with flexibility and creep resistance, are used by customers in a wide range of applications, including easy-opening packaging, hot-melt adhesives, polyolefin modifications, sanitary pipes and surface heating and cooling systems.


India could reach an out-of-court settlement with Dow Chemical to clean up the Bhopal gas disaster site and end liability claims after more than 20 years.  The potential settlement would clear legal holds on future Dow Chemical investments in India by setting up a fund to clean up thousands of tons of contaminated soil along with other measures to resolve long-running lawsuits linked to the disaster.  In 1984 a then Union Carbide plant at Bhopal disgorged 40 tons of lethal methyl isocyanate gas.  Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide in 2001 has insisted that all liabilities related to the disaster were settled when Union Carbide concluded a $470 million compensation settlement with New Delhi in 1989.  However, local and federal court cases in India have challenged that view with lawsuits demanding more compensation for survivors and liability claims for ongoing health problems related to the disaster.  Bureaucracy and lawsuits since the Union Carbide settlement have delayed compensation payments and medical attention for survivors.


Activists tried to invade a Syngenta AG biotech seed farm in Brazil with at least two people shot and killed.  An activist opposed to the farm’s work with genetically modified seeds and a security guard were killed.

Contract Won

Drake & Scull was awarded a $21 million contract to provide MEP services for the Wahat Al Khartoum Towers project in Sudan.  The project includes four office towers, a shopping center with underground parking and a green park area.  Drake & Scull will be responsible for the design detailing, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of the chillers yard, air handling units, pumping plant, drainage, hot and cold water system, fire fighting system, electrical distribution, 11 kV switchgear and transformers, fire detection system, lighting systems and low current systems for the complete project.

Technically Speaking

How can I estimate the blowdown flow rate that should be used on a cooling tower?

Start by examining the feed water to the tower and determine the concentration of the following: chloride, sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, and calcium based salts.

As rule-of-thumb limits, try to keep the tower water below the following limits: 750 ppm chlorides, 1200 ppm sulfates, 1200 ppm calcium salts, 200 ppm sodium bicarbonate.

With these limits in mind, it should be fairly clear via the feedwater examination which of the species will determine the blowdown rate (more often than not, it's the chloride levels...but well waters can contain significant levels of calcium based salts).

Now, use the following procedure:

First, we’ll define the blowdown flow rate as:

chexpress07_22_1.gif (2400 bytes)

BLOWDOWN = Blowdown flow rate in GPM
EVAP = Rate of evaporation in GPM
DRIFT = Rate of drift losses in GPM
CONC = Number of allowable concentrations

Since evaporation and drift losses are very difficult to measure, the following estimates can be used:

EVAP (GPM) = Total Water Flow (GPM) x Cooling Range (°F) x 0.0008

DRIFT (GPM) = Total Water Flow (GPM) x 0.0002

Considering an example, suppose that a tower is cooling 20,000 GPM of water from 115 °F to 88 °F (27 °F cooling range). The make up water contains 150 ppm chlorides and the tower water should not exceed 750 ppm chlorides. Calculate the following values:

CONC = 750 / 150 = 5 conc cycles

EVAP = 20,000 GPM x 27 °F x 0.0008 = 432 GPM

DRIFT = 20,000 GPM x 0.0002 = 4 GPM

and the blowdown flow rate is calculated as:

chexpress07_22_2.gif (2195 bytes)

Cooling Tower Fundamentals, SPX Cooling Technologies

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