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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 1, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

Lonza is investing $300 million to expand its mammalian biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in
Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Currently, the site has a total suite capacity of 93,000 liters.  Construction for the expansion began in March, with the completed upgrade to include biotherapeutics manufacturing, offices, a warehouse and support systems.


Akzo Nobel will buy KCH Groupís Ohio-based corrosion protection business, Celicote, for $16 million.  Celicote produces polymer-based corrosion controls for steel and concrete structures used in mining, wastewater and chemical processing, and power generation.

Environmentally Friendly Plastic
Metabolix and BioEnergy have named their biodegradable plastics joint venture Telles.  In addition, the trade name Mirel will be used for the plastics produced.  Telles has begun construction of a 110 million pound/year plant in Clinton, Iowa, that is scheduled to begin production during the second half of 2008.  Feedstocks that biodegrade harmlessly, like corn sugar, will be used to produce the plastics.  The Mirel plastics could be used for injection molding, paper coating, cast film and sheet, blown film and thermoforming.

Basell will restart an idled 220,000 ton/year propylene plant in Bayport, Texas during the second quarter of 2008.  The plant has been idled since 2001, but the company says restarting it is a cost-effective way to add capacity.


PE Plant
Pemex has started operations at its 300,000 ton/year swing polyethylene (PE) plant.  This raises the companyís total production capacity by 60% to 800,000 tons/year.  The plant will help reduce Mexicoís PE imports by 40% and reduce the nationís PE deficit by $210 million.

ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods have formed an alliance in the production and marketing of biodiesel based on animal fat.  Production in several of Conocoís refineries is expected to begin later this year with capacity expected to reach approximately 175 million gallons/year by 2009.


Capacity Increase
Nutrition Canada (ONC) has doubled its omega-3 fish capacity through a $10 million collaboration deal with Alicorp S.A.A.  Alicorp is a major edible oils and food manufacturer in Peru.  With the new Peruvian plant, ONCís omega-3 concentrate oil capacity will increase by more than 50%.

Dirt Resistance
Dow UCAR Emulsion Systems is focused on improving dirt pickup resistance in paint and coating formulations.  Through focus on a new technology, Dow will explore new testing protocols, development tools and products.  Product research will include latex chemistries, including acrylic, styrene acrylic and vinyl acetate ethylene polymers.

New Insecticide
KMG Chemicals has launched Avenger insecticide ear tag for cattle.  The ear tag can be used for the prevention and aid in control of damaging flies and pests in cattle and dairy cows.

3M has agreed to acquire Innovative Paper Technologies (IPT) and Powell.  IPT is a manufacturer of inorganic-based technical papers, boards and laminates for a wide variety of high temperature applications.  Powell supplies non-woven polyester mats for the electrical industry.  These acquisitions complement 3Mís line of electrical products while allowing them to enter into the market of flexible insulation materials.

Technology Integration
Millipore Corporation has successfully integrated Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology with filtration products to manufacture biopharmaceutical drugs.  By combining RFID technology in filtration products, Millipore offers customers an increase in speed by quickly and reliably retrieving critical information, such as when and how the product was manufactured.  In addition, when coupling the filters with sensors, RFID can deliver real-time information about product performance and identify which fluids are present during the manufacturing process, thereby helping customers to ensure regulatory compliance as well as the recording and conveying of manufacturing data are faster and more reliable.        


Plans to Sell
BASF will sell its detergent ingredient subsidiary, Wibarco, to Switzerland-based Hansa Chemie.  BASF is divesting the business because it is not considered a core asset.  Wibarco produces linear alkylbenzene (LAB), a starting material for the detergent intermediate linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS), at its plant in
Ibbenburen, Germany.  For Hansa Chemie, Wibarcoís exisiting LAB plant and a planned sulphation plant strengthen its market position in surfactants.  The sale, subject to regulatory approval, should be completed in July.

Italyís Snia will buy oleo-chemical group Undesa for $33 million.  The deal should be completed by May 31.  Undesaís two firms, Union Derivan and Undesa Italia, are both included in the sale.  Sniaís subsidiary, Caffaro Chimica, will acquire Undesa Italia.  Union Derivan produces stearates, esters, estarguats and stabilizers at plants in Spain (Barcelona and Zaragoza).  Undesa Italia makes glycerin and fatty acids in Bologna, Italy.

Chemanol will invest $400 million in a methanol, formaldehyde and derivatives expansions project.  The project involves backward-integrating Chemanolís existing formaldehyde and derivatives production into a 230,000 ton/year methanol plant and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.  With this work, formaldehyde capacity will rise from 230,000 to 350,000 tons/year.  In addition, Chemanol will build a 20,000 ton/year pentaerythritol plant downstream.  The methanol plant will supply a 50,000 ton/year methylamine unit, which will in turn feed a 60,000 tons/year dimethyl formamide (DMF) plant.  The methanol facility will produce 33,000 tons/year of the co-product carbon monoxide, which will be used in the conversion of methylamines to DMF.

Joint Venture
Braskem (Brazil) and Pequiven (Venezuela) have signed a $2.87 billion joint venture agreement for Jose Petrochemical Complex.  The companies will form to joint ventures to develop and implement a integrated petrochemical project in Venezuela.  One of the projects involves the construction of an ethane cracker from natural gas with an annual capacity of 1.3 million tons of ethylene, 1.1 million tons of polyethylene (PE) and other petrochemical products.  This project is due on stream by the end of 2009 with an estimated budget of $2.5 billion.  The second project involves constructing a polypropylene (PP) plant with a capacity of 450,000 tons/year on the same site as the first plant.  This is expected to be on stream during the second half of 2011 at an investment of $370 million.

Akzo Nobel plans to spend $343 million on two chemical plants in China.  Work will begin once approvals have been obtained from the China authorities.  The company plans to build separate ethylene amines and chelating agent manufacturing facilities on a 50-hectare plot in the Ningbo Chemical Industry Zone.  The chelating agents plant is expected to start up in 2009, with the ethylene amines factory to start up in early 2010.

Dow Chemical Company opened a new polyurethane systems market development and prototyping laboratory in Cairo, Egypt.  The facility will help create new products to meet the growing needs of the local customer base across the Middle East, India and Africa.  It will help support the continuous development of polyurethane-based fully formulated products to serve a number of applications.

Technically Speaking

Is there a newer replacement technology available for rupture discs?

"Today's state-of-the-art in buckling pins has, in my opinion, totally eradicated any practical reason for employing rupture discs as dependable relief devices.

There is no method or technique to accurately predict a rupture disc's useful (and accurate) life. Additionally, the history of rupture discs clearly points to corrosion, cycle life, temperature, solids, and other factors as contributing to unreliable relief from rupture disks. Now with sanction from ASME, there is no valid reason to not use the cheaper, accurate, and reliable buckling pins of today."

Art Montemayor via Forums

More on Rupture Pins

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