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Dateline: March 7, 2006

Technically Speaking


Butadiene unit sold

Huntsman Corp. is selling its U.S. butadiene and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) business to Texas Petrochemicals.  The $275 million sale includes a manufacturing facility in Port Neches, Texas will be complete in the middle of 2006.  The Port Neches facility has the capacity to produce approximately 405,000 metric tons/year of butadiene and 11,000 barrels/day of MTBE.  Other nearby facilities are not included in this sale.


$100 million investment

Tetra Technologies Inc. will invest $100 million to develop brine resources around Magnolia, Arkansas.  Tetra Tech plans to add brine production wells, a bromine plant, a calcium plant and the expansion of its existing bromide facility in West Memphis, Arkansas.  Construction will involve two stages – the first phase is expected to be operational by late 2007 and the second phase will be on line in 2009.  The Magnolia expansion will allow the company to produce all the raw materials to fully integrate its fluids business.  The West Memphis expansion will enable Tetra Tech to take bromine from Magnolia and use it to manufacture brominated clear brine fluids (CBFs) for its oil and gas services business.


Chlorine expansion

Bayer will expand its chlorine facility in Baytown, Texas by 200,000 tons/year.  This expansion is part of an $836 million investment package for its Material Science division.  As a result of this investment, the Baytown facility will produce 500,000 tons of chlorine/year.  The project should be complete by the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008.


Maleic anhydride unit

Huntsman has selected its Geismar, Louisiana facility as the new home of its 100 million pound maleic anhydride unit.  Huntsman is in the process of detailed engineering and reactor procurement in preparation for startup in the third quarter of 2008. 


Amines plant

BASF will build an alkylethanolamine (AEOA) plant at its Geismar, Louisiana facility.  The new plant will complement the existing amine production at the site.  Startup is scheduled in 2007.  This expansion will increase the company’s worldwide production of specialty amines by 40%.


Ammonia production restart

Terra Industries will restart its ammonia plant in Yazoo City, Mississippi.  Production was halted last November because of high natural gas costs and in order to complete extended turnarounds. 


PFOA to be scrapped

Eight worldwide companies have agreed to reduce and eventually eliminate emissions of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) by 2015.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received agreement from Arkema, Asahi, Ciba, Clariant, Daikin, DuPont, 3M/Dyneon and Solvay Solexis.  PFOA will be reduced by 95% by 2010 and 100% reduction by 2015.  The measurement of each firms’ PFOA reduction levels will be against a baseline of emissions detected in 2000.


APIs to be sourced from India
Degussa’s Exclusive Synthesis and Catalysts business has signed a long-term agreement with Mumbai, India-based Hikal Ltd.  Hikal will manufacture advanced intermediates and APIs (advanced pharmaceutical intermediates) for Degussa.  As a result, Degussa will now be able to supply pharmaceutical intermediates and APIs from India. 

Silicone-based textile finishing products

Resil Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. and Dow Corning Corporation will jointly explore business opportunities in silicone-based textile and garment finishing.  The collaboration should harmonize Resil’s application expertise with Dow Corning’s strength in material science.  Resil’s silicone-based formulations will benefit from Dow Corning’s ingredients and technology.  The jointly developed product will be marketed under the “Resil” brand name but also identified as “Powered by Dow Corning.”

$200 million for expansion
Cipla has received approval from its Board of Directors to raise $200 million for capacity expansion and possible acquisition.  The route for raising the capital is still being decided.  Acquisition plans will not be merely to increase the top-line result, but more targeted at product or technology-related additions.

Double revenues by 2008
GE-Plastics is targeting to double its revenues in India from Rs. 500 crores to Rs. 1,000 crores by 2008.  The company will invest in new materials, technologies, application development and infrastructure in India.  A company spokesperson said they see opportunities in the automotive, building and construction, and telecom sectors.  

Technically Speaking

What is the significance of the minimum flow required by a centrifugal pump?

The minimum flow that a centrifugal pump requires descibes the flow below which the pump will experience what is called "shutoff".  At shutoff, most of the pump's horsepower or work is converted to heat that can vaporize the fluid and cause cavitation that will severely damage the pump.  The minimum flow of a pump is particularily important in the design of boiler feed pumps where the fluid is near it's boiling point.

Determining the shut off head of a centrifugal pump

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