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Dateline: November 1, 2005

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

Chemical Industry News from the U.S.

Production resumed
Formosa Plastics Corp. has resumed production of polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene and polypropylene plastic resin as well as chloralkali at its Point Comfort, Texas facility following the explosion and fire at the plant on October 6.  Repairs are already underway on the Olefins II unit, which also suffered damage from the incident.  The Olefins I unit, which supplies the ethylene and propylene feedstock to other downstream production units, has been operating at full capacity.

Plant expansion
ExxonMobil Chemical will increase production capacity of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana plant.  At the end of the expansion, the plant will become the world's largest IPA plant, with 380,000 tons/year.  The upgrade should be complete by the fourth quarter of 2006 and follows a previous expansion completed in 2003.

New glass capacity
DuPont has begun new operations for production of its safety glass interlayers.  Expansions were implemented to meet strong global demands.  Key to the expansion is a new manufacturing line opened in the company's Fayetteville, North Carolina facility.

Capacity to double
Fortron Industries will invest $65 million to double its Wilmington, North Carolina plant's polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) capacity.  Expansion is expected to be complete in 2007.

Growth in polyurethanes
In North America, the polyurethane production grew 10.8 percent between industry surveys conducted in 2002 and 2004.  The Alliance for Polyurethane Industry said growth had been flat between 2000 and 2002 surveys.  U.S. volume grew to 6.7 billion pounds versus 5.5 billion two years ago.  Canada produced 720 million pounds compared with 588 million in 2002.  Mexico made 499 million pounds in 2004.

Refiners to put profits into capacity
The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said that refinery expansions and the passage of Congressional investment incentives should make a significant contribution to future U.S. fuel supplies.  Several U.S. energy companies have already announced plans for additional refinery capacity - the investment would come from the companies record profits.

Chemical Industry News from India

New branch launched
DuPont India launched DuPont Pipeline Solutions, a cross-SBU effort between DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers and DuPont Powder Coatings to provide more focus on DuPont offerings to the pipe coating industry.  DuPont Pipeline Solutions will offer a three-layer polyethylene coating system that includes DuPont "Fusabond" and DuPont "Nap-Gard" to protect cross-country pipelines against corrosion and damage.  As a cost-effective mode of transportation, these pipelines carry oil, gas and water.  DuPont says the coating ensures a maintenance-free long service life for the pipelines.

Octene-based LLDPE launched
GAIL Ltd. has launched a film-grade linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) using octene as co-monomer from its Pata petrochemical plant.  With this launch, the company has entered the Rs. 250-crore domestic octene-based LLDPE market.  The company has a target of capturing 15-20% of the market share.

Joint venture
BP plc and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) have signed a letter of intent to form a 50/50 strategic joint venture covering the refining and marketing sector in India.  A major project as part of this venture will be the construction of a $3 billion refinery with an annual capacity of 9 million tons/year at Bhatinda in Punjab.  In addition, the companies will establish a retail service station network in preparation for the refinery coming on stream in 2009.  The joint venture will also provide assistance in crude selection and supply for other HPCL refineries and provide opportunities for HPCL to acquire/participate in refining and marketing assets that the BP group may identify from its overseas portfolio.  A joint working group will be established to develop the joint venture and examine a range of other opportunities, both in and outside of India.

Two coal gasification projects
ONGC is planning to commission two pilot coal gasification projects in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh by the end of the year.  The group has already entered into an MoU with Neyveli Lignite Corporation for an underground gasification project in Tamil Nadu and is planning a similar agreement with India's oldest coal PSU, Singareni Colleries Company Ltd. for gasifying surface coal.

Technically Speaking

What are some common causes of tube rupture in a hydrogen plant steam reformer?

The following factors lead to shortened tube life and may eventually result in tube rupture:

1. Prolonged operation at excessive tube skin temperatures
2. Thermal Cycling of the Reformer Furnace (Frequent plant shutdowns and restarts)
3. Wide variations in the feedgas composition (if no Pre-Reformer)
4. Loss of Catalyst Activity
5. Operation at too low inlet S/C ratio
6. Poor firing in furnace - direct flame impingement against the tubes
7. Uneven/Imbalanced heating in the radiant section

Also check out the case study below.

Source: CERP Message Board, Kevin Nurse


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