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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: June 10, 2010

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North America

Photovoltaics Lab

DuPont has opened a new photovoltaic applications lab at its Chestnut Run facility in Wilmington, Delaware. Research at the new lab, which will work in collaboration with DuPont’s photovoltaic labs in Switzerland and China, is aimed at using new materials and engineering processes to make harvesting and using energy from the sun more efficient and less expensive. The company is focusing on increasing the energy efficiency and power output of photovoltaic cells, extending the durability and life of photovoltaic modules so that savings from the upfront costs can be realized, and reducing manufacturing and installation costs.

New Soybean Trait

DuPont has received approval from U.S. agricultural officials for its new soybean characteristic that is intended to expand commercial and consumer uses. DuPont’s Plenish high oleic soybeans were developed by the company’s Pioneer Hi-Bred business. The soybeans contain the highest oleic acid content of any soybean product under commercial development. The trait increases the stability of oil from the soybeans, providing greater flexibility for food applications. The oil also has 20 percent less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil, making it more attractive for consumer food products. Full commercialization of the trait is anticipated in 2012.

Sulfur Dioxide Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final new health standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2). The one-hour health standard will reportedly protect millions of Americans from short-term exposure to SO2. Exposure to SO2 can aggravate asthma and cause other respiratory difficulties. The EPA is setting the one-hour SO2 health standard at 75 parts per billion.

New Plant

BASF plans to expand its global service and production network by building a new manufacturing plant in Panama. The new facility will help the company’s Construction Chemicals business meet the demands of the construction market in Panama. The site will be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2010.



Pemex has filed a lawsuit against five companies, including the U.S. subsidiary of BASF, Murphy Energy Corp., Trammo Petroleum Inc., U.S. Petroleum Depot Inc., Valley Fuels, and five individuals, for allegedly buying stolen Mexican petroleum products. The lawsuit claims that the companies allegedly profited from the theft of natural gas condensate. It claims at least $300 million worth of condensate from the Burgos basin in northeast Mexico has been stolen since 2006. The company is asking for at least $900 million in damages.


Energy Reduction

Eastman Chemical Co. has formally pledged to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent during a 10-year period in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The company has already reduced greenhouse gas intensity by 25 percent and energy intensity by 35 percent during the past 10 years.          


Hydrogen Plant

Air Products’ joint venture company in Sichuan, China has signed a long-term agreement to build a hydrogen production facility for PetroChina Company Limited. The steam methane reformber (SMR) will produce hydrogen and syngas to support PetroChina’s Sichuan refinery and petrochemical facilities. The facility will produce more than 90 million standard cubic feet/day of hydrogen and should be on stream in early 2012.


Total Petrochemicals is considering capacity expansions for its joint-venture petrochemical plants in Qatar. The company is discussing capacity increased for the 750,000 ton/year Qatar Petrochemical Co. ethane cracker and the 1.3 million ton/year Ras Laffan olefins cracker. Possible timeframe or sizes for the capacity expansions have not been disclosed.

Center of Excellence

Albemarle Corp. has opened its global shared services center in Budapest, Hungary. Known as Albemarle’s Center of Excellence (ACE), the facility was developed as part of the company’s initiative to standardize and streamline its global processes.


Capacity Cut

Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp and Asahi Kasei Corp. said that after merging their ethylene operations, they will cut output capacity by about 30 percent and shave production costs by $32.94 to $43.92 million by 2012. The companies plan to merge their ethylene operations under a 50/50 joint venture on April 1, 2011.

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