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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: May 30, 2006

Technically Speaking

North America

Capacity doubled
BASF has debottlenecked its
Geismar, Louisiana plant, doubling its North American production capacity for polyetheramine products, which is good timing given that the overall size of the market has increased.  Polyetheramines are used in polyurea and epoxy systems employed in the automobile and construction industries.  Other applications include plastics, composites and adhesives.

Versatility is the leading factor
Biodiesel has more potential as an environmental and imported oil than does ethanol because of its greater versatility according to Imperium Renewables, a Seattle-based biodiesel producer.  The company states that only a small percentage of ethanol can be blended into gasoline while biodiesel can be run at 100% concentration in a diesel engine without modification, which may have even better potential for effective positive economic and environmental change.  Another advantage is the diversity of feedstocks – any animal or vegetable oil can be used.  In addition, its lubricant quality is beneficial – as sulfur regulations have tightened, regular diesel’s lubrication effects have waned leading to engine wear – biodiesel acts as a blending agent with its lubrication qualities.  Imperium is building its first 100 million gallon/year biodiesel plant in the Port of Gray’s Harbor,
Washington at the cost of $40 million.

Chloride facilities expansion
Dow is expanding its dry calcium chloride capacity by 30% at its Ludington, Michigan facility.  The expansion is in response to the steady growth in demand.  Calcium chloride can be used in oilfield fluids, dust palliatives, de-icing and concrete acceleration.

Cellulose into sugar
DuPont is developing bio-based and bio-engineered alternatives to petroleum-based fuel and other products.  The company is looking to make plant-derived ethanol much more economical by finding a way to turn excess cellulose, the leftover, wasted part of the plant, into sugars.  DuPont is engineering enzymes to eat the cellulosic parts (like corn stalks) and convert them to sugar, which is what will get turned into ethanol.  This solution would drive up productivity per acre of crop, making ethanol more economical.  Currently, the net gain in energy savings from ethanol is 20% over that from traditional petrochemical sources, but once cellulose can be added to the ethanol equation, that 20% is expected to rise to an 80% better environmental footprint over petroleum feedstocks.

House decides on OCS bill
The House of Representatives narrowly turned back efforts to restore access to vast reserves of natural gas off the U.S. coasts.  The House voted 217 to 203 to reinstate language in an appropriations bill to maintain a 25-year-old ban on development of natural gas and oil reserves in the U.S. outer continental shelf regions.

Restart delayed
Dow delayed the restart of its polystyrene plant in Joliet, Illinois due to difficult economic conditions.  Production stopped on May 1 for a scheduled maintenance and regulatory shutdown, which was completed in about two weeks.  Production, however, won’t start again until June 1 because of raw material costs. 

Arctic gas development
President Bush has called for development of natural gas resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saying that those resources and others are needed to maintain U.S. global competitiveness.  He also reiterates his call for more natural gas development in the U.S. Gulf and for streamlined federal processing of applications for new liquefied natural gas import terminals.  In addition, he urged for more aggressive construction of nuclear power plants.

Ethyleneamines boost
Dow Chemical will boost ethyleneamines capacity at subsidiary Union Carbide’s St. Charles operations in Hahnville, Louisiana.  This boost will be the result of expanding the existing reduction amination technology unit and installing amination technology in a new facility.  This move will help the company meet growing market demand for the two, large volume ethyleneamine homologues globally and in North America – ethylenediamine (EDA) and diethylenetriamine (DETA).

Insecticides collaboration
A University of Connecticut start-up, Venomix, has contracted with Chemtura to develop insecticides.  Venomix includes technologies developed by a UConn lab and patented by the university that should have less environmental impact because the toxicity is closely targeted to the pest.  Chemtura’s crop protection division plans to invest more than $1 million in Venomix in the next two years.

Long-fiber capacity expansion
RTP has built a new long-fiber facility in Winona, Minnesota to help increase capacity, reduce lead times and increase quality control.  Additional long-fiber lines have been added to several RTP facilities worldwide, incorporating a wider array of resin systems including cross-functional technologies beyond polypropylene and nylon.

Esters plant expansion
Cognis is upgrading and debottlenecking the esterification plant at its Cincinnati, Ohio facility.  Cognis esters are used in synthetic lubricants for transmissions and axles in the heavy-duty truck industry.  Work will begin in the early summer and is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2007.

Ethanol and starch investment
Tate & Lyle will invest $260 million for a new corn wet mill in Fort Dodge, Iowa that will produce ethanol and cationic starches for the paper industry.  The facility will be built in two phases, which will ultimately have a capacity of 300,000 bushels of corn/day.  The first phase will be completed by March 2009 with a capacity to process 150,000 bushes of corn/day and 100 million gallons of ethanol/year.  The investment will double the company’s ethanol capacity and free up capacity at its Sagamore, Indiana plant to enable them to increase production of higher value-added food ingredients.  Tate & Lyle is currently expanding the Sagamore plant to increase capacity for food ingredients production as well as its Loudon, Tennessee plant, which will increase ethanol capacity by 37 million gallons/year to 100 million gallons/year.  Both the Sagamore and Loudon expansions are scheduled to be operational by 2007.


Pharma unit purchase
India’s Dishman Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals has agreed to acquired Solutia’s pharmaceutical services business for $74.5 million.  Dishman will buy Switerland-based CarboGen and Amcis and other assets that together constitute Solutia’s pharmaceuticals services division. 

Contract won
Praxair India has won a second contract from Tata Steel to build and operate two on-site industrial gas plants at a steel plant in Jamshedpur.  Praxair India will build, own and operate two cryogenic air separation plants, each with a capacity of 700 metric tons/day to meet the steel plant’s requirements.

Bleaching clay capacity doubled
Ashapura Volclay Ltd. has increased the capacity of its bleaching clay and clay catalyst plant at Bhuj to meet increased demand in the Indian and international markets.  The capacity has been increased from 25,000 tons/year to 50,000 tons/year in addition to a clay catalyst plant of 10,000 tons/year capacity.  With this expansion, the plant has become the world’s second largest single-location facility for high grade specialty bleaching clay.

Clay catalyst unit
Ashapura Volclay Ltd. has also put up a clay catalyst plant, which is the first and only clay catalyst plant in India.  Clay catalysts find applications in the petrochemicals industry for benzene-toluenexylene separation from the aromatic stream of hydrocarbons, among other applications.

Plans to go global
Ashapura Volclay Ltd.has also finalized plans to make its presence global by kicking off a project for value-added mineral processing in northern Europe, which will be a 50/50 joint venture with Amcol.  The plant will have approximately 100,000 tons/year capacity and will be located in Belgium.  In addition, the company plans to set up plants in Central Asia and Nigeria.

New portable fire extinguisher product for Indian market
DuPont Fluoroproducts in association with Integrated Fire Protection P. Ltd. (IFP), an Indian portable fire extinguisher manufacturer, has lauched the first commercial, hydrofluorocarbon-based (HFC-based), clean agent portable fire extinguisher for use in India.  India is the second country in Asia, after China, to launch this product.  The product line utilizes HFC-236, marketed by DuPont under the trade name “DuPont FE-36” in IFP designed extinguisher equipment.  DuPont FE-36 extinguishants are clean agents that are low in toxicity and leave no residue after application, making them suitable for areas containing sensitive or high-value assets.  Common industries that utilize clean agents include telecommunications, IT-data centers and IT-enabled services industries, semi-conductor facilities and precious art institutes – all industries where exposure to water and dry chemical extinguishants could potentially damage the assets.

Ethanol plant
SVP Industries Ltd., a company involved in alcohol and distillery, has announced it will set up an alcohol manufacturing plant that would use both grains and molasses.  In addition, it will set up an ethanol plant with a capacity of 40 kiloliters/day.  The plants will be set up at Mansurpur.  The entire project is worth more than Rs. 45 crores, which is planned to be raised through IPO, debts and internal accruals.

Expansion plan unveiled
Marck Biosciences has announced investment plants of Rs. 72 crores at its existing facility at Kheda for creating additional capacity of large volume parenterals (LVP) and small volume parenterals (SVP).  Additional capacity of 39 million units will be added by December.  The expansion will increase the capacity for IV fluids and sterile diluents.  The investment will also involve setting up a modern formulation and development center along with laboratory and training centers for the HR department.  The current turnover for SVP is Rs. 6.5 crores/year and will be raised to Rs. 25 crores/year.  The LVP turnover is Rs. 3 crores/year and will be enhanced to Rs. 6.5 crores/year.

Deal extended
Intelligroup Inc., a technology solution provider, has announced that Eastman Chemical Company has extended their contract to provide application development services through 2008.  This agreement extends Intelligroup’s role as a primary provider of application development services for Eastman’s SAP applications, which supports its operations in North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.  Intelligroup provides services for Eastman’s e-business applications and other Microsoft-related systems through a combination of onsite and offshore resources based in Hyderabad.

Technically Speaking

If recirculation is being used to mix a tank, how can one tell when the tank could be considered "well mixed"?

A good rule-of-thumb is to turn the tank over three times once all of the chemicals have been added.  So, the time needed to reach a "well mixed" state could be:

time = (3 x volume) / recirculation rate

For example, if you have a 1000 gallon tank and your recirculation rate is 100 GPM, the tank will be well mixed after 30 minutes.

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