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Dateline: February 21, 2006

Technically Speaking


Industrial gas expansion
Praxair is expanding its industrial gas facility in Loveland, Colorado.  The expansion will be through a $15 million investment in response to growing demand from the oil-and-gas industry in the Rocky Mountains.  The facility will produce an additional 300 tons/day of liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon for customers in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska and Kansas.

Toll Agreement amended
BASF and Sterling Chemicals amended a toll manufacturing agreement under which Sterling makes plasticizing esters for BASF.  The new agreement will extend to 2013.  It also means that Sterling will no longer produce linear oxo alcohols for BASF from its Texas City, Texas plant as of the fourth quarter of 2006.  BASF will no longer offer Palatinol 711P, 79P or 9P.

Investigation underway
Akzo Nobel Chemicals is cooperating with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine the cause of a February 7 blast.  The blast injured one contract worker at the company's Deer Park, Texas metal alkyls plant.  The blast occurred in a warehouse that stored powdered aluminum.

Biofuels added
Archer Daniels Midland will build a dry corn milling plant for added ethanol capacity in Columbus, Nebraska.  The new plant will be built next to an existing one, adding 275 million gallons of capacity.  Work is scheduled to be complete by early 2008.

Operations have started
Air Products has started operations at its new Convent, Louisiana and Baytown, Texas hydrogen production facilities.  These are two of six planned facilities that Air Products will bring on stream in the USA and Canada over a 10-month period.  When all facilities are online, Air Products will have increased its hydrogen production capacity by 35%.  The Convent facility is designed to produce 100-mmscfd of hydrogen from a steam methane reformer.  The Baytown facility is designed to produce 70-mmscfd of hydrogen and is connected to the Air Products West Gulf Coast pipeline system.

Natural polymers plant
Archer Daniels Midland Company and its joint venture partner Metabolix will build the first natural polymers plant located at a major ADM site in North America.  The facility will have a capacity of 50,000 tons and will produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), a naturally occurring form of polyester, through a fermentation process using agricultural raw materials like corn sugar.  PHA polymers can be used in coated paper, film and molded goods.  Under an agreement formed in 2004, ADM will have exclusive manufacturing rights and certain co-exclusive marketing rights to Metabolix's proprietary PHA technology.  Metabolix will get up-front and milestone payments for transfer and scale-up of the technology.

Commercial banks finance ethanol
A syndicate of 17 lenders will provide $275 million of the total $423 million necessary to build three ethanol plants.  Each plant, owned by ASAlliances Biofuels, will have a capacity of 100 million gallon/year.  The plants will be built in Bloomingburg, Ohio; Albion, Nebraska; and Linden, Indiana.  This is purported to be the biggest ethanol financing deal in U.S. history.


Expansion plans
IOC will expand its Haldia refinery capacity to 7.5 million tons/year.  To carry out this expansion, IOC acquired part of the unused land of Hindustan Fertiliser Ltd.'s closed facility at Haldia.  A separate project has been started to produce Euro-III grade fuel at the Haldia refinery.

Pipeline project
In an effort to augment crude supplies from Gujarat Adani Port to IOC's expanded Panipat refinery, the company has started a Rs. 305-crore pipeline project in the West coast.  The project includes setting up an adequate storage facility at Mundra, commissioning a greenfield crude pipeline from the Mundra oil terminal to Kandla, and converting the Kandla-Panipat section of the existing product pipeline into a crude pipeline.  The Panipat refinery currently has a capacity of 12 million tons/year.

Need board approval
IOC is planning to seek board approval to move forward with the jinxed Paradip refinery project.  IOC believes that the preparatory work for the project will begin this year.  A detailed feasibility report for the project has recently been approved by the Chairman.  While specific proposal details have not been released, it is believed that the refinery will have a capacity of 15 million tons/year.  The initial build will focus on a refinery, with a provision for setting up a naphtha-cracker in a second phase.

Investment approved
The Board of Directors of the Chennai-based Chemplast Sanmar Ltd. has approved plans to invest $100 million to setup a 170,000 tons/year greenfield polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant at Cuddalore.  Chemplast has already received environmental clearance from the central government for setting up the new plant.

Caustic soda expansion
Kanoria Chemicals and Industries Ltd. is planning a Rs. 150-crore expansion of its caustic soda production capacity and will be issuing foreign currency convertible bonds worth $20 million to partly fund it.  Between June 2006 and 2007, there will be an addition of 40,000 tons/year of caustic soda capacity. 

New membrane cell plant
Kanoria Chemicals has begun a first phase of capacity expansion to set up a membrane cell-based chloralkali plant at an investment of Rs. 93-crore.  As a result of this expansion, capacity should reach 90,000 tons/year in about three months.  Current capacity is at 50,000 tons/year.  The company plans to add another new membrane cell chloralkali unit at the existing facility at Renukoot that will be funded by debt and internal accruals.

Technically Speaking

How can I accurately estimate the service life of a rupture disc?

Many people believe that rupture discs are outdated technology.  In many cases they've been replaced by rupture (or buckling) pin technology.  Rupture discs have shown to exhibit problems with corrosion, solids buildup, temperature cycles, and other issues.

The answer to the question above in most cases is, "you cannot accurately determine the service life of a rupture disc and their quickly being replaced by a technology that the engineering community is embracing."  

If you'd like to discuss a specific pressure relieving problem that you have, post your question in our Relief Device Forum.

To learn more about rupture pins, check out these resources:

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