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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: November 14, 2006

Technically Speaking

North America

Interior air filters

DuPont has introduced a new line of automotive DuPoint Premium Interior Air Filters that feature exclusive filtering technology that cleans the outside air before it enters the cabin of the automobile.  The filters are said to capture up to 96% of fine dust, pollen, allergens and other airborne particles.  They are also available with an added Activated Carbon Layer that reduces unpleasant odors inside the vehicles.

Fiber optic network

BP America plans to invest $80 million to construct an 800 mile undersea fiber optic system in the Gulf of Mexico to provide continuous broadband connectivity to the companyís offshore oil and gas facilities.  The system will allow greater operating flexibility, including the ability to continue producing safely for longer periods when hurricanes enter the Gulf and to return more quickly to production after storms pass.  In some cases, the system may enable facilities to not have to be shutdown at all.  Currently, hurricane-related shutdowns each year reduce oil and gas deliveries to refineries and power plants, sometimes resulting in higher gasoline and electricity prices, or shortages in some areas.  The system will initially link seven of BPís deep water production facilities including Marlin, Horn Mountain, Na Kika, Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog and Holstein to the new Advanced Collaborate Environment (ACE) centers in Houston, Texas.  Each facility will have direct optical connectivity to Houston via two independent routes, ensuring continued operations independent of any other facility in the system during hurricanes.  TYCO Telecommunications will construct the undersea fiber optic system with plans for the project to be operational in late 2007.

Reviewing alternatives

Grace Davison, an operating segment of W.R. Grace, is reviewing strategic alternatives for its washcoat product line based in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The washcoat products are used primarily in the manufacture of automotive emissions control catalysts, an integral component of catalytic converters for combustion engines.  The product line accounts for less than 5% of Grace Davisonís annual sales.

Unplanned maintenance

Dow Chemical has shut its No. 7 ethylene cracker in Freeport, Texas for as long as two months.  The closure is due to unplanned maintenance at an associated light hydrocarbon plant.  The 614,000 ton/year unit will be shut for up to 61 days.

Expansion of operations

BASF will expand its pigment portfolio after integrating Engelhardís pigment business.  The U.S. catalyst makerís previous businesses for effect pigments and films, colored pigments and pigment preparations are now a part of BASFís performance chemicals division.  BASF acquired Engelhard for more than $5 billion in June.


Cytec Industries will build a new production unit for Resydrol water-based alkyds at its Wallingford, Connecticut facility.  The additional capacity is planned to help shorten the supply chain process and increase the companyís ability to respond to customer needs in North America.

Job slash

Bayer plans to eliminate 800 U.S. jobs as part of its takeover of rival Schering.  Bayer will eliminate the first 600, largely from research positions, by the end of the first half of 2007.  Over time, they anticipate eliminating an additional 200 U.S.-based positions as part of the overall reorganization. 


Joint venture

Bayer Material Science and Dubai-based Pear Insulation Materials Industries are establishing a polyurethane (PU) joint venture in the United Arab Emirates to take advantage of growth opportunities in the construction industry throughout the Middle East.  The joint venture will operate under the name Bay Systems Pearl with operations beginning next year.


China Resources Enterprise will divest its chemical and piped gas business in China to its parent company.  The change will be made so China Resources can focus on its consumer industries, mainly its retail, food and beverages business.  The entire stake in China Resources Petrochems Holdings will be sold for $357.5 million. 

Coating center

BASF opened a new application center in Mangalore, India, for automotive OEM coatings.  The center will provide customer support to the growing Indian car market.  The facilities include conveyorized advanced electrostatic bell applicators and will allow simulation of the conditions of any paint booth.

New market

Asahi Kasei, a Japanese chemical company, has found a new market for the acrylonitrile-styrene (AS) resin it produces.  The product has recently been accepted by a lens manufacturer for use in rear projection screens, and is already on the market.  Traditionally, the AS resin was used for cosmetic containers and liquid crystal displays.

Plastics facility

Mitsubishi Plastics is building a new facility at its Nagahama factory in Shiga prefecture to increase its capacity for engineering plastics.  The facility should be completed by March, with commercial operations scheduled to start in April.  The $8.6 million project is going to be phased in.  The first phase will increase the capacity of polyetherimide film with a new unit at the facility.  Other expansions are planned, but details were not released.  The expansion is in response to the growing demand of engineering plastics for information electronics applications.

Doubling capacity

Brazilís Policarbonatos de Brasil plans to build a plant to more than double its current polycarbonate (PC) capacity of 15,000 tons/year.  The plant is scheduled to come online in 2009 and will add new products to the companyís portfolio, including CDs and DVDs.  The plant will be built at Camacari in Bahia next to the companyís existing plant.


Ciba Specialty Chemicals is looking to Asia to expand its business.  Of the $241 million the company sets aside annually for new capacity, a disproportionate amount is planned to go to Asia.  The companyís strategy is to keep what it has in Europe and expand its business in Asia, with focus areas in China and India.  In China, it sees potential for water chemicals, paper chemicals, plastic additives for the automobile industry, antioxidants and chemicals for personal care products.  Ciba hopes to expand its lubricants business in China through backward integration.  In India, it is involved in the manufacture of chemicals for the lubricants, water treatment and electronics industries.


Order won

Indiaís Puni Lloyd won a contract worth $180.9 million from Qatar Petroleum to engineer and construct the Doha Urban Pipeline Relocations project.  The order entails laying 97.2 kilometers of gas pipeline, three new and six modification stations, decommissioning the existing pipeline and demolishing nine existing stations.

Technically Speaking

What is an effective way of drying out process lines after a hydrotest?

We found the following advice on the internet from Sean Shepard of SASOL North America in Lake Charles, LA. Sean explains:

"About 15 years ago an operator taught me a good trick for drying out piping.  We were drying a new line for ethylene service by blowing it with hot nitrogen and testing the dewpoint at the other end.  The drying process was taking a long time and costing more than we had anticipated.  The operator recommended 'pressure and depressure' and then proceeded to close the outlet valve.  When the gage read a positive pressure, he quickly opened the 8" gate valve.  Each time he did this a quart or more of residual hydrotest water came pouring out, and the pipe was quickly dried.  Since then the 'pressure and depressure' method of drying has been my method of choice.  I'm not sure why it works so good (even without heat).  It may be that this action forces the gas to fill the entire cross section of the pipe and 'lift' water from places that the free flowing gas misses."

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