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christa.jpg (5628 bytes) Chemical Industry News Editor Christa Semko
Every two weeks, Christa will bring you the latest chemical industry news from the U.S. and India.  If you have a press release that you'd like to share with us, please mail it to us through our online contact form here.

Dateline: March 21, 2006

Technically Speaking


Gulf output now normal

The Federal Reserve says that petrochemical production along the hurricane-battered U.S. Gulf Coast has returned to normal and that domestic chemicals demand is expected to pick up with the onset of the construction season.  In addition, selling prices have declined for ethylene, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride and chlorine, but still remain well above pre-hurricane levels.


A holistic approach

Honeywell has spent $3 million updating, integrating and implementing a holistic approach at its Geismar, Louisiana facility.  Honeywell Specialty Materials made these changes to enhance security at the facility for the post-9/11 world.  The company has integrated security systems with advanced process control systems.  The Geismar facility was built in 1967 and covers about 1,900 acres.  Honeywell produces hydrofluoric acid, fluorocarbon refrigerants and its Alcon resin at the plant.  The upgrade to security was in response to an early 2004 advisory by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the upgrades plans were developed with the U.S. Coast Guard given that the plant has a dock on the Mississippi River.


PHA natural plastics

Archer Daniels Midland and Metabolix will build their first commercial plant for PHA natural plastics in Clinton, Iowa.  Initially, the plant will have a capacity of 50,000 tons/year, producing a new generation of high-performance natural plastics that are environmentally friendly and based on renewable resources.  Construction is scheduled for completion in the middle of 2008.


Under investigation

BASF, DOW Chemical and Lyondell have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice in an antitrust investigation of polyurethane chemical producers.  The investigation concerns possible price-fixing in the methylene diphenyl di-isocyanate (MDI) and toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) and polyols markets.


Investment in power plant and caustic soda plant upgrade

Chemplast Sanmar Ltd. will invest Rs. 300-crore to set up a power generation plant and to convert its mercury-based caustic soda manufacturing process at Mettur.  The investment will be split with Rs. 220-crore for setting up the coal-based power generation plant and Rs. 80-crore for converting the mercury-based caustic soda manufacturing process to a membrane-based process. 


Refinery commissioned in 2009

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BCPL) is hoping to commission its 6 million ton/year Bina refinery by the end of 2009.  The refinery involves an investment of Rs. 10,300-crore.


Raised refinery capacities

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HCPL) will raise the capacity of its Mumbai and Visakhapatnam refineries during the next fiscal year.  The Mubai capacity will be raised to 7.9 million tons/year from 5.5 million tons/year and the Visakhapatnam capacity will be raised to 8.4 million tons/year from 7.5 million tons/year.  The expansions are part of a program to produce cleaner fuels and should have been implemented this past fiscal year, but have now been pushed to 2006-2007.


Retail expansion

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HCPL) is looking to finalize an agreement with British Petroleum on equity participation on its Rs. 12,000-crore Bhatinda refinery project this Spring.  HCPL would invest Rs. 1,200-crore in 2006-2007 to expand the retail network and pipeline projects.  The company currently has 7,000 retail outlets and intends to add 850 more.


Bio-diesel unit starts operations

Isonox Bio-Energy has started operations at the Ambad area of MIDC.  The unit will manufacture bio-diesel from Jatropha curcas seeds.  The company plans to increase the production capacity from the current 2,000 liters/day to 10,000 liters/day in October of 2006.  In 2007, capacity will be increased to 1 lakh liter/day.


India’s biggest bio-fuels project

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and British Petroleum will undertake a $9.4 million project in Andhra Pradesh to demonstrate the feasibility of producing bio-diesel from Jatropha Curcas.  The 10-year project will cultivate around 8,000 hectares of land currently designated as wasteland with Jatropha and install all the equipment necessary – seed crushing, oil extraction and processing – to product 9 million liters of bio-diesel/year.  TERI will be responsible for the day-to-day management and execution of the project, including establishing and implementing contracts with local farmers or agricultural cooperatives.  They will also own and manage the processing facility.

CTL expansions planned

Sasol Managers will visit India this month as part of the company’s plan to develop its coal-to-liquids (CTL) synfuel operations overseas.  Sasol is eyeing India and the U.S. as the next potential markets for its CTL technology, which converts coal into liquid fuels and chemical feedstocks. 

Bayer to hold off on India, despite growth

It will be at least five years before there is heavy investment in India by Bayer.  The business grew dramatically in 2005 – sales growth of 35% to $336 million in 2005.  In addition, the Indian government has stated its commitment to attracting foreign investment to seven major petrochemical sites.  Bayer is considering relatively small capital investments such as expanding its network of formulators and polyurethane systems houses.  Bayer has operations in its cropScience, health and materials systems businesses in India.  The company says India needs to significantly improve its infrastructure before it would be prepared to make the same sorts of major investments that are planned in China.

Technically Speaking

How can one determine if a pipe is running full or is at its sealing flowrate?

The following equation gives a quick check to determine the sealing velocity for a pipe:

Q = 10.2 D 2.5

Q is the liquid flowrate in gallons per minute
D is the pipe diameter in inches

If the current flowrate in the pipe is less than the value calculated for Q above, then the pipe is below its sealing flowrate or is said to be partially flooded.  In order to calculate the velocity in this pipe you must use a set of flow area equation presented in Chemical Engineering magazine (March 1998, p. 129). The above equation is valid for liquid flow through a horizontal pipe.

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