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Dateline: November 15, 2005

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

Chemical Industry News from the U.S.

Another ethylene peak
Scarce supplies of ethylene have skyrocketed U.S. prices and margins.  The market should have a second peak that should be longer than the three-month stay seen in early 2005.

Elastomer boom
ExxonMobil Chemical will double the capacity of its Exxpro specialty elastomers used in the construction of tire inner liners at its Baytown, Texas facility.  The expansion should be completed by the fourth quarter of 2006.  This multi-million dollar investment will support the development of new, higher air barrier inner liner technologies for passenger and commercial vehicle tires.  Tests on the prototype liners indicate a number of benefits including better tire cure time and inflation pressure retention as well as about a 20% improvement in durability.

Mining chemicals expansion complete
Cytec Industries Inc. has expanded its Mount Pleasant, Tennessee plant.  The expansion raises the capacity for metal extractant products used in the copper mining industry.  The expansion will increase the plant's output capacity by about 50%.

Energy shift forecasted
The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) believes that the growth of coal-fired electric power generating capacity will increase rapidly during the next two decades, easing, but not eliminating pressure on natural gas.  The increasing cost of natural gas has triggered what the DoE calls a resurgence in coal-fired power generation.  According to the DoE, 124 coal-fired power plants are being planned for construction, representing 73 gigawatts of new electric power, however, market and economic conditions will ultimately dictate the future of those planned plants.

Capacity increase
Clariant is investing more than $10 million to expand manufacturing capacity at its units in Springfield, Missouri and Tonneins, France.  The Springfield unit's investment will give customers access to "the full kit" of pharmaceutical fine chemicals activities.  The expansion should come on line in early 2006 and will include synthesis equipment, isolation and finishing facilities, as well as infrastructure.  According to the company, this is the first of future investments at the site.

Natural gas action urged
The leader of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) has urged Congress to take immediate action to lift restrictions on natural gas development in order to relieve pricing pressures that are forcing U.S. chemicals capacity overseas.  A focus area to help increase domestic natural gas supplies is the exploration and production of OCS (outer continental shelf) and onshore areas that are currently subject to moratoria and other restrictions.  The NPRA also asserted that the natural gas crisis is costing jobs.

Ethanol production increase
Cargill will begin to construct a new 110 million gallon/year ethanol plant at its Blair, Nebraska corn-processing complex in the spring of 2006.  Construction is expected to be complete by late 2007.  This expansion will raise Cargill's total annual U.S. ethanol production capacity to 230 million gallons.  

Chemical Industry News from India

Expansion plan finalized
The public sector undertaking of Travancore Titanium Products has finalized a comprehensive expansion plan for Rs. 256-crore.  Steps for pollution control, taking production of titanium dioxide to the licensed capacity of 24,500 tons/year and diversification to other products are the major initiatives of the first phase of the two-phase expansion program.  The production capacity of titanium dioxide would be increased to 100 tons/day, with 70 tons/day rutile and 30 tons/day anatase.

Greenfield complex
Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd. (DFPCL) will set up a 300,000 tons/year greenfield complex for nitric acid and ammonium nitrate in Eastern India.  The project will require an investment of about Rs. 400 crore (~$90 million).  The expansion will primarily focus on meeting the needs of the mining and construction sectors in both the India and global markets.  The project setup time is scheduled for about 24 months.

IPA project to commence in March
Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd. (DFPCL) will commence commercial production of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) by March 2006.  The 70,000 tons/year plant is being setup in Taloja at an investment of Rs. 1,540 crore.

Biomass-based power plants
Manali Petrochemicals Ltd. is planning two biomass-fired power plants, each of 2.5 megawatt capacity, in Manali, near Chennai.  The project is planned for completion by April 2007.  Estimated costs are Rs. 41 crores.  


Technically Speaking

What's the best way to control an oversized, horizontally oriented shell and tube steam heater?

A used shell and tube heat exchanger is to be used in steam heating duty.  The heat exchanger is larger than necessary and the control scheme to be employed is being investigated.  The steam to be used will be 65 psia saturated steam.  The process fluid is a liquid brine fluid.

Two opinions were offered on this topic:

A.  The actual pressure in the heater, while the steam is condensing is dependent on the condensing rate and the overall dirty U. Tubes can be plugged to reduce the amount of heat transfer area, as long as the process side (tube) velocity does not get too high.
    Calculate the needed area and then the required steam flow rate.  An orifice can be sized to control the steam flow rate, however at reduced loads, the condenser may experience partial vacuum conditions so be sure that the shell is rated for full vacuum.  When this partial vaccum condition does occur, choked flow will be experienced through the steam control valve.  The Cv trim value would need to be sized such that the choked flow does not exceed what is needed.  This is tricky and requires several trim size change outs.
Source: Mr. Art Montemayor

B.  Another option is to control the steam side via level control on the shell of the heat exchanger.  This way, the 65 psia pressure can be maintained and the condensate will rise up and cover "unnecessary" tubes.  This method works well with vertical shell and tubes, however is a horizontally mounted unit, the level will change more slowly and is more difficult to measure.


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