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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: January 22, 2008

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North America

Polymers Facility

ExxonMobil Chemical has completed and started its new $20 million compounding facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The compounding facility will supply high-performance polymers to the automotive, appliance and specialty consumer products industries.  It has an initial capacity of 40,000 tons of specialty compounded products, but was designed for flexible and efficient production of high quality and consistent products.  The facility includes an extensive product support and testing center to manufacture new products more quickly and cost effectively.

Capacity Increase

Nova Chemicals Corp. plans for a series of polyethylene plant modernization and expansion projects in Sarnia, Ontario.  The projects will add a total of up to 250 million pounds/year of new polyethylene capacity in stages during the next two years.  The projects include the following: upgrading products, improving reliability and expanding the low-density polyethylene unit in Mooretown, Ontario; optimizing the high density polyethylene unit at Mooretown to increase throughput rates and improve product quality; and debottlenecking high-density polyethylene and linear low-density polyethylene production at the St. Clair River sit in Corunna, Ontario.  The total cost of the project is approximately $80 million.

Synthetic Chemical Plant

SNF Co. is looking at building a synthetic chemical manufacturing plant in either Green Lake, Texas or Houma, Louisiana.  The plant is expected to employ approximately 650 people and SNF hopes to make a decision by the end of this month.

Plant Fire

A fire at BASF Corp.ís plastic products plant in Louisville, Kentucky triggered multiple small explosions, but no injuries.  The explosions were the result of a fire in the plantís ďbag house,Ē which recovers and dries leftover materials used to add color to plastic products.  The materials involved in the fire are not toxic.

GM Invests

General Motors is investing in Coskata, a start-up biofuels company that says it can produce ethanol from a wide range of feedstocks for less than $1.00/gallon, compared with a wholesale selling price of more than $2.00/gallon today.  Coskata says its process can consume virtually any carbon-based feedstock, including municipal waste, old tires and agricultural waste.  In the companyís process, feedstock is gasified into syngas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen), with the syngas sent to a special bioreactor where microorganisms consume the two gases, excreting ethanol as a waste product.  Finally, membranes separate the ethanol from water.


Acetic Acid Plant

BP and Sinopec have signed a memorandum of understanding to add a new 650,000 ton/year acetic acid plant in Chongging, China.  The plant is estimated to be operational in 2011.  Acetic acid is an organic chemical raw material widely used in industries like chemical engineering, light and textiles, medicine, pesticide and dye.


To meet the growing demand for solvents and plasticizers, BASF plans to expand the annual production capacity at its oxo-C4 plant in Nanjing, China by 55,000 metric tons to 305,000 metric tons by the fourth quarter of 2008.  This will ensure reliable supplies of the precursor alcohols n-butanol and 2-ethylhexanol.  BASF has also inaugurated the regionís first plasticizer applications laboratory in Shanghai, China.  The facilityís research and development efforts will focus on flexible PVC applications and Palatinol 10-P, a new C10 plasticizer.

Police Raid

Police raided a Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. ethylene plant in eastern Japan looking into whether the company committed professional negligence in the recent fire that killed four workers.  Mitsubishi is fully cooperating with the investigation.  The 476,000 ton/year plant has been shut since the December 21, 2007 fire.


Construction at Dow Chemicalís Chakhan, India research and development center was halted because of protestors who were reportedly demanding justice for survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster.  The protestors included local residents and farmers who want Dow to address the issues facing the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster.  Not only do they criticize Dow, but they also criticize the government for failing to force Dow to clean up the contaminated soil and groundwater around the factory in Bhopal.

Joint Venture

LightPath Technologies, Inc. has entered into a joint venture agreement with CDGM Glass Co., Ltd. in Chengdu, China.  The two will each own a 50% interest in LightPath CDGM Chengdu Optical Co., Ltd.  Initially, each will invest $5 million into the joint venture.  The joint venture is being formed to develop, mold and manufacture aspheric lenses with a diameter of less than 20 mm for high volume visible imaging applications for cell phones, digital cameras and video equipment.  They are targeting production of approximately one million lenses/month.  The joint venture agreement is subject to governmental approval; however the partners expect it to be operational by no later than July 1, 2008.                 

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