Industry News Editor Christa Semko Every two weeks, Christa will
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Postash Corp. has announced it will issue temporary layoffs to roughly 800 workers at three mines in Saskatchewan, Canada. Workers at the company’s Allan, Rocanville and Lanigan mines will be affected. The layoffs will happen in November and December and are expected to last two or three months. Some of the workers could end up doing other jobs with the company, including maintenance or construction.
The Dow Chemical Company and Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., a joint venture between Xerox Corporation and FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, have joined the Eco-Patent Commons. The Eco-Patent Commons is a business effort coordinated by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to help the environment by pledging environmentally beneficial patents to the public domain. The newly pledged patents include a technology developed by Dow to enable more efficient production of olefins by reducing energy and material consumption in the process and a wastewater treatment method developed by Fuji Xerox.
DuPont has merged two of its businesses, DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise and DuPont Fluoroproducts into a single unit named DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts. This further streamlines the company from 14 to 13 businesses, part of DuPont’s overall effort to capitalize on growth opportunities and drive decision-making closer to customers.
Air Products has signed a long-term supply contract with Monsanto Co. to build a hydrogen production plant at Monsanto’s Luling, Louisiana facility. The plant is scheduled to be on stream in January 2012. Air Products will build a steam methane reformer producing more than 100 million standard cubic feet/day of hydrogen. The steam methane reformer will be connected to Air Products’ EastGulfCoast pipeline network. In addition, the facility will produce additional hydrogen via a clean up of a hydrogen-rich off-gas feed coming from Monsanto.
Wacker Chemie AG has inaugurated its new technical center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The center will develop and test polymer products chiefly for applications in the construction, adhesive, engineered fabrics and architectural coating industries. It is also equipped with lab facilities.
Plant Will Stay Open
DuPont Performance Elastomers expects to continue running its Beaumont, Texas plant until at least the first quarter of 2010. The plant makes chlorosulphonated polyethylene materials under the Hypalon and Acsium trade names. The extension timing will be revisited on an ongoing basis.
The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act is aimed at the nation’s four remaining chlorine factories that use a mercury processing system to manufacture chlorine. The legislation would require the chemical plants to undertake a $90 million conversion to eliminate its use of mercury was approved by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee with an amendment offering the companies until 2015 to complete their renovations. The legislation would also affect Olin plants in August, Georgia and Charleston, Tennessee; a PPG Industries facility in Natrium, West Virginia; and the Ashta Chemicals plant in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Methane Into Liquid Fuel
Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have taken an important step in converting methane gas to a liquid, potentially making it more useful as a fuel and as a source for making other chemicals. Methane is difficult and costly to transport because it remains a gas at temperatures and pressures typical on the Earth’s surface. Scientists at the universities have moved closer to devising a way to convert methane to methanol or other liquids that can easily be transported, especially from the remote sites where methane is found.
Wacker Chemie AG and Dow Corning Corporation have started the construction of the second phase of their pyrogenic silica plant in Zhangjiagang, China. The plant, along with a siloxane plant, are key parts of an integrated silicone manufacturing site developed by both companies to produce materials used in construction, beauty and personal care, power and automotives.
BASF Antwerpen N.V. has announced its intention to close its 115,000 tons/year maleic anhydride production facility by the end of 2009 and to withdraw all BASF activities from its site in Feluy, Belgium. There are 133 employees at the Feluy site. BASF’s maleic acid business is suffering from unsatisfactory profitability due to overcapacity and resulting low margins along with the effects of the current economic crisis.
Eni has been awarded the license for the development of the Zubair giant filed in Iraq. The Zubair field, one of the largest Iraqi oil fields, currently produces 195,000 barrels of oil/day. In the next seven years, production is expected to reach a plateau level of 1.125 million barrels of oil/day. The project includes the drilling of more than 200 wells, the construction of treatment facilities and the required collection network, as well as the refurbishment of the existing plants. The service contract will last 20 years and can be extended to 25.
CNPC has launched a major petrochemical project in Yangzhong, China, a traditional stronghold of its rival Sinopec Group. The project will begin in 2010 with a total investment of CNY 20 billion. CNPC will build a refined fuel reserve, a petrochemical logistics center and a chemical raw materials producing base. A refined oil pipeline 1,000 kilometers in length will also be built as an auxiliary facility.