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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: September 5, 2006

Technically Speaking

North America

Potential delay

A turn in Alaskan state politics may further delay the Alaskan gas pipeline by a year or more, possibly shifting public support from the pipeline entirely in favor of exporting liquefied natural gas.  Alaska Governor Fran Murkowski was defeated in his bid for a second term as the state’s chief executive when Republicans voted overwhelmingly against him in the state’s Republican primary.  With this change in leading politicians in the state, there may be a drive toward alternative ways to monetize Alaska’s vast gas reserves, mainly in the form of liquefied natural gas options, which could impact the gas pipeline plans.

Globalization and flexibility

Chicago-based Chemcentral is seeking opportunities to boost its presence in Asia and Latin America, sharpen its focus on specialties and make its organization more nimble and flexible in order to react to customer needs.  The company is on track for another record year, mainly driven by higher sales in personal care and cosmetics lubricants and metalworking and household, industrial and institutional cleaning.  Chemcentral is sharpening its focus on specialty chemicals where it can realize higher net margins.  Other targeted markets include paint, coatings and inks adhesives, cauls and sealants and rubber and plastic compounding.  The company is aiming to dramatically grow sales in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East through partnerships and acquisitions.  To remain competitive, Chemcentral will continue with quick decision making and flexibility to best meet customer needs, including providing inventory management systems for its customers.

Agreement to sell

Ashland has signed an agreement to sell Ashland Paving and Construction (APAC) to Oldcastle Materials for $1.3 billion.  When the transaction is completed, Ashland will consist of its four chemical divisions: Ashland Performance Materials, Ashland Distribution, Valvoline and Ashland Water Technologies.


Solar film plant expansion

DuPont will expand production of polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) film at its Fayetteville, North Carolina facility at an investment of $50 million.  The expansion is intended to meet the needs of the photovoltaic solar energy market.  DuPont is also expanding its PVF film manufacturing capacity at other sites in Louisville, Kentucky and Buffalo, New York.  Combined with additional expansions for other photovoltaic materials, DuPont’s total planned investment is more than $100 million.  The company has launched its Tedlar PV2100 Series films, part of an extended product line used in the protective backsheets of solar panels, which are critical to the efficiency, lifetime and overall operation of the panels.  The market for Tedlar films is increasing more than 30% per year.

BDO outage planned

Lyondell’s 55,000 ton/year butanediol plant in Channelview, Texas will undergo a five- to six-week outage in early October.  Stocks are being built up to compensate for the outage.


Restructuring on track

Nova Chemicals expects to meet is $65 million annual cost-reduction goal by the end of the year.  In June, Nova said it would combine its styrene monomer and solid polystyrene assets in North America with its European joint venture interests to form a separate business unit called Styrenix.  Styrenix includes the company’s styrene monomer production facilities in Bayport, Texas and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada as well as polystyrene plants in Decatur, Alabama, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and its interest in the European joint venture with Ineos, called Innovene.  The company is exploring a sale or joint venture of Styrenix.  The company expects to save $50 million/year from the restructuring and $15 million annually from the closure of its Chesapeake, Virginia polystyrene plant.

Amines unit purchase

Belgian Taminco is buying Air Products’ amines business for an undisclosed sum.  Air Productions said the sale is part of its portfolio restructuring.  The amines business includes plants in Pace, Florida, St. Gabriel, Louisiana and Camacari, Brazil.  The business employs 225, all of whom will continue with Taminco, and generated revenues of $310 million in fiscal year 2006, which ended in September.  The sale is expected to be completed by the end of September.


Warehousing hub

Kandla Port is set to anchor India’s first warehousing hub at a cost of Rs. 200-300 crore.  The project will be jointly developed by Kandla SEZ and IL&FS.  One hundred acres of land has been allotted with the aim to covert the port into a warehousing hub by creating additional infrastructure facilities.  About 20 plots have been allotted for warehouse facilities outside the port for activities like setting up container freight stations and warehouses.  If the project succeeds, IL&FS is likely to set up similar facilities in Noida and Cochin.


Clinical trials research activities

India will increasingly feature research of clinical trials for Merck.  Currently, Erbitux, a targeted therapy drug for colorectal cancer, is being tested there.  India is slated to be part of a global trial of a vaccine for lung cancer called Stimuvax.  The trials are expected to begin in December with regulatory approvals already received in India.


Production resumes

Twelve days after suspending work due to the unprecedented floods in the Tapi River, ONGC resumed processing and supplying of gas from its Hazira facility.  Supply of gas to major customers has also resumed.  ONGC suffered production loss of about Rs. 20 crore/day since stopping production altogether, excluding losses to the plant, machinery, infrastructure and its employees and officials.


Cancer drug clinical trials targeted for the U.S.

Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotechnics Ltd. expects to start the first phase of human trials in the United States on its monoclonal antibody-based drug for lung cancer by January 2007.  Cato Research, a U.S.-based contract research and development group, will conduct the clinical trials.  The trials involve testing the molecule on healthy human volunteers to evaluate the safety profile and dosage range of the drug.  This is the first time than an Indian pharmaceutical company is conducting clinical trials in the U.S.  The drug is planned to be ready for commercialization by 2009 if exempted from phase III clinical trials.  If it has to undergo the third phase of clinical trials, it would take an additional two years before it could be released into the market.

Technically Speaking

How can I calculate the heat of dilution for a sodium hydroxide solution?

Follow the easy to read chart below.  There's an example set up on the chart for you:

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