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Dateline: October 4, 2005

Chemical Industy News from the U.S.
Chemical Industry News from India
Technically Speaking

Chemical Industry News from the U.S.

Investment in polymers
Nova Chemicals Corp. plans to invest up to $225 million to boost its performance polymers capacity by the end of 2007.  This investment is part of the company's overall strategy to turn around its styrenics business.  The increased capacity plans include Arcel, Dylark, Zylar and Silver EPS from about 30 million pounds/year today to 390 million pounds/year by the end of 2007.  The company believes this should generate an EBITDA of $150 million to $170 million per year.  Building will occur at the company's existing sites in Belpre, Ohio and Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania.  In addition, Nova is seeking to earn more out of the value chain for its high-tech polymers.

New food packaging
Nova Chemicals Corp. unveiled a new suite of performance plastic resins for the food packaging market.  Dylark FG 2500, Zylar EX 720 and Surpass IFs932-R are the latest products in the company's plastic resins line.  Zylar EX 720 is a clear acrylic copolymer that is resilient at low temperatures, a valuable characteristic for refrigerated or frozen food packaging.  Dylark FG 2500 is a styrenic copolymer that combines low-temperature toughness with high-temperature rigidity, an ideal option for freezer-to-microwave performance.  Surpass IFs932-R is a polyethylene-based material that is drop-resistant and user-friendly for lids and seals.

Congress urged to act now
The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) urged Congress to act as soon as possible to boost U.S. oil and natural gas supplies.  The group called for lifting of federal restrictions on exploration and development on the outer continental shelf off U.S. coasts.  The urge is for increasing the U.S. supply of oil and natural gas to be Congress's number-one public policy priority.  A recommendation was made to expand tax incentives included in the recently enacted Energy Policy Act that would help to stimulate the construction of new refineries in the USA.

More ethanol plants
Archer Daniels Midland Company will construct two dry corn-milling facilities to expand its ethanol capacity by 500 million gallons.  Construction should be complete in early 2008.  The new facilities are planned to be located adjacent to the company's existing ethanol plants.

Operational control shift
Lucite International Inc. has entered into an agreement with DuPont to operate acrylonitrile and site services at DuPont's Beaumont, Texas industrial park site on a contract basis.  This agreement is effective October 31.  DuPont will continue to sell acrylonitrile and acetonitrile produced at the facility.  In addition, Lucite will invest in a new hydrogen cyanide (HCN) unit at the site, based on DuPont's technology, which will be retrofitted to the acrylonitrile facility, reducing capacity for acrylonitrile from 200,000 metric tons/year to 140,000 metric tons/year.  The HCN should start up in mid-2006.

Production suspended
Lyondell Chemical Company is indefinitely suspending production of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) at its 300 million pound/year plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  This suspension is due to poor financial results.  TDI market conditions have not improved, and the company doesn't foresee them changing soon.  

Alcohol from cane molasses at "zero cost"
The upward trend in petroleum-based fuel prices worldwide has shifted the focus to developing alternatives like biofuel from ethanol and blending fuel with ethanol.  The finite nature of oil reserves and the possibility of crude oil prices remaining high in the near future have led to increased demand for ethanol from renewable sources like molasses.  With the market prices of molasses beginning to climb, the alcohol producers are looking to reduce/minimize the cost of production.  A Mumbia-based process consultant, Mr. Abhilesh K. Tripathi, has studied the process of alcohol fermentation and come up with a "zero cost" process package for the distillery industry for the production of alcohol from cane molasses (black strap molasses). 

Indian firm lands another bio-ethanol plant build
Pune-based Praj Industries Ltd. has won a Rs. 36-crore order for a 280,000 liters/day bio-ethanol plant from a Turkish firm, Koyna Seker.  The plant, which will be located in Turkey, should be up and running by November 2006.  This is an order that has been a year in progress.  Praj Industries also recently secured an order from Algeria.

Plans for biotech park
The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (ITT-KGP) has entered into a memorandum of association with West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) to develop a biotechnology park near Kharagpur with an investment of Rs. 100-crore.  ITT-KGP plans to leverage its 38-patent rich IP in biotechnology to attract potential investors to the venture.  Plans include setting up the park on a 100-acre plot in and around Kalaikundla, near Kharagpur on land that belongs to the Ministry of Defense.  Efforts are also underway to secure an additional 100-acres adjacent to the plot to set up a township with related social infrastructure.

Technically Speaking

What are some problems associated with bellow expansion joints?

Bellow expansion joints have (in some circles) gained a reputation for being "weak" points in piping.  Usually they're used to remove piping stresses from equipment or to allow for minor piping moments.

If they're used properly, expansion joints can save equipment and/or equipment welds from stresses generated from piping forces. 

The two most common complaints about bellows are:

1.  They tend to build up dirt
2.  They are "weak" point in piping (as noted earlier)

To overcome these issues, manufacturers began installing drains in the bellows to allow for the periodic purging of material.  Additionally, bellow manufacturers have placed much emphasis on installation advice and showing their customers how to protect the bellow from unnecessary damage.  One such method is the use of tie rods between the end flanges to avoid pressure thrust movements (beyond the bellow's design conditions) which are often the cause of bellow failures.

If you want to learn more about bellow installation or participate in online conversations about bellows, check out the following websites:

Expansion Joint Systems, Inc.
Online Expansion Joint Forum


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