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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: April 29, 2008

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North America

Chemical plant
Tetra Technologies Inc. has broken ground on a new $100 million chemical plant in
El Dorado, Arkansas where it will produce calcium chloride.  The plant will collect saltwater from underground and process the brine into calcium chloride for use in drilling and in other products.  It is expected to produce 400,000 tons of liquid calcium chloride annually plus 120,000 tons/year of dry-flake calcium chloride and 210,000 tons of salt.


DSM NV will invest $450 million during three years to expand production capacity for Dyneema, a fiber that is used to strengthen body armor and military vehicle plating.  Current demand is strong in the U.S., so the bulk of the investment will go there.


Monstanto Co. and Mendel Biotechnology Inc. have collaborated to enhance the development of Mendelís BioEnergy Seeds & Feedstocks business.  Mendel is developing perennial grass seed varieties for use in biofuels and other commercial applications and will apply Monsantoís expertise in crop testing, breeding and seed production to Mendelís grass seed varieties.


Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded $60 million during four years to liberal arts colleges to revitalize science teaching.  The biomedical research-funding and philanthropic organization will provide grants ranging from $700,000 to $1.6 million to each of 48 undergraduate institutions in 21 states and Puerto Rico.


Polypropylene production facility
Braskem has inaugurated its BRL700 million polypropylene production plant in Paulinia, Sao Paulo state, Brazil.  The plant will use propylene from refinery gas as feedstock.  The facility has an annual production capacity of 350,000 tons and it will ultimately be increased to an annual capacity of 1.1 million tons.


BASF SE is planning a significant expansion of its production plant for the biodegradable plastic Ecoflex at its Ludwigshafen, Germany site.  Ecoflex is a petrochemicals-based plastic that has the properties of conventional polyethylene, but is fully biodegradable in accordance with DIN EN 13432 requirements.  This expansion will raise current production levels from 14,000 metric tons/year to 60,000 metric tons/year.  Production at the expanded plant will start in the third quarter of 2010.  BASF also plans to increase production capacity of the compounding facility in Ludwigshafen where the newly developed Ecovio is manufactured.  Ecovio, a derivative of Ecoflex, contains 45% by weight of the renewable raw material polylactic acid (PLA).  Containing PLA means that Ecovio is not only biodegradable, but also largely bio-based.  PLA is a material obtained from corn.  Both Ecoflex and Ecovio are used to make carrier bags, compostable can liners, mulch film, food wrapping and other materials.

Chloromethanes plant

Dow Europe GmbH and Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd. (GACL) have signed a joint venture agreement for the construction, operation and ownership of a 200 kilotons/year chloromethanes manufacturing facility in Gujarat, India.  The agreement allows Dow and GACL to complete a study, begin work on definitive agreements and work toward financial closure, which is estimated for completion by the end of this year.  The new facility is targeted for operations in 2011.  Chloromethanes are used as an intermediate in the production of fluorocarbons and fluoropolymers as well as a solvent in pharmaceutical manufacturing, metal cleaning/degreasing and other chemical-processing applications.  GACP will supply feedstock and power and lease land to the joint venture with Dow licensing its production technology and marketing and sales expertise.

Research center

Syngenta plans to build a new biotech research and technology center in Beijing, China.  It plans to invest $65 million in the labís first five years of activity.  The center will focus on early-stage evaluation of genetically modified and native traits for corn and soy in the areas of yield improvement, drought resistance, disease control and biomass conversion for biofuels.  The new facilities will be completed in 2010, however adjacent temporary facilities are expected to start operations this summer.

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