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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 28, 2006

Technically Speaking

North America

Partnership for Sharing Market Intelligence and Promoting Business Development

Grace China Ltd., a subsidiary of W.R. Grace & Co., signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maryland Center China (MCC), establishing a partnership for sharing market intelligence and promoting business development.  The partnership allows Grace to strengthen its presence in China by sharing resources with the State of Maryland China Office and other Maryland organizations.  MCC is strategically located in Shanghai and Beijing and will support Grace through outreach activities, organization of conferences and training initiatives, as well as offering government and public relations, business facilitation and marketing consulting services.  Originally created in 1996, MCC was intended to develop commercial relationships between Maryland and China and represent the State of Marylandís interest in the expanding Chinese market.

Hydrogen research project

Proton Energy Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of Distributed Energy Systems Corp. was awarded a $2.3 million contract for a hydrogen-technology-oriented follow-on research project.  The study was awarded by the University of Nevada Las Vegas Research Foundation (UNLVRF) and enables Proton to continue to examine advanced proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology research funded by a grant to UNLVRF from the U.S. Department of Energy.  The grant will allow Proton to focus on critical technology improvements like increased system and cell stack efficiency, reduced costs through scale-up and manufacturability assessments and improving the technology to directly interface renewable electricity sources to the PEM electrolyzer.


Chlorine Rail Tank Car Replacement Plans

Several leading chemical manufacturers plan to replace their entire U.S. and Canadian chlorine tank car fleets by the end of 2017 with new rail tank cars featuring significantly enhanced safety and security attributes.  Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem), The Dow Chemical Company, U.S. Magnesium LLC and Bayer MaterialScience have committed to the safe and secure rail transportation of chlorine through this aggressive rail tank car replacement plan and the formation of a Chlorine Rail Tank Car Development Coordination Panel.  The primary goal of the Coordination Panel is to accelerate the chlorine industryís development of enhanced tank car designs that can be leveraged across the chemical industry in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada.  The Next Generation Rail Tank Car project is focused on the design and implementation of a next generation rail tank car for highly hazardous chemicals that provides a step change in safety and security performance.


Office opening

Saudi-based Aramco opened an office in Shanghai, China to tap into local manufacturing competence and material supply services.  Aramco Overseas Company (AOC) will focus on strategic sourcing in a bid to strengthen its parent companyís extensive supply chain from oil exploration through to shipping and marketing.  The scale of the business will depend on material availability, quality and pricing.

Alternative energy

China is looking to launch more measures to promote biochemistry and bio-energy in an effort to reduce conventional oil dependency and control polluting industries.  The National Development and Reform Commission said that subsidies, tax breaks and bail-out funds for pilot projects will be used to promote alternative energy programs.  The plan intends to boost the income of the agricultural industry, much like the U.S., by promoting ethanol and biodiesel from crops.

Investment consideration

SK Corp., a South Korean oil refiner, is considering teaming up with Chinese state-run Sinopec.  SK is considering a naphtha cracker to tap into Chinaís large energy demand. 

Expansion potential

Reliance Industries has been linked to a potential deal worth $2 billion to buy BPís Belgian refinery and petrochemical business.  This would be a significant step in Relianceís global expansion plans.  Neither company would comment officially on the report.

New gas reserve

China National Offshore Oil Company Limited (CNOOC Ltd.) discovered a new natural gas reserve in Bohai Bay capable of producing 11.7 million cubic feet of gas/day.  The Jinzhou (JZ) 31-6-1 well was drilled on Structure JZ 31-6 to a total depth of 2,305 meters in the sea area with an average water depth of 28 meters. 

Gas exploration

Danford Equities Corporation of Australia has reached a contract with state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise on oil and gas exploration in Australiaís Yetagun gas field off the southern Tanintharyi coast.  The activities will be conducted at the east block of the offshore Yetagun field.  The Yetagun gas field project involves PTTEP (Thailand), Petronas (Malaysia), Nippon (Japan) and MOGE (Myanmar).


United Phosphorous Ltd has acquired the global propanil herbicide business, marketed as Stam herbicide, from Dow AgroSciences LLC.  The $25 million acquisition comes close to UPLís announcement regarding the purchase of Cerexagri, making UPL the third largest agrochemical company in the world.



The Sanmar Group has entered into an agreement to acquire a chemical business in Port Said, Egypt for $200 million.  The business belonging to Trust Chemical Industries owns a caustic soda plant with a capacity of 200,000 tons/year.  The plant also has facilities installed to manufacture chlorine-based products like Hydrochloric Acid, Chlorinated Paraffin Wax, Sodium Hypochlorite and Ferric Chloride.

Technically Speaking

What are the most common methods of gas purging a vessel?

The four (4) most common methods of batch gas purging are: syphon, vacuum, pressure, and sweep-through.

Syphon purging involves filling the vessel with liquid (product or water) and then the gas purge is introduced into the vapor space and the liquid is drained.  The purge gas volume is equal to the volume of the vessel.

Vacuum purging is perhaps the most common method for purging vessel rated for the needed vacuum condition. Vacuum is drawn on the vessel and then purge gas is used to relieve the vessel to atmospheric pressure. This procedure is often repeated until an acceptable level of a component (usually oxygen) is reached.  The acceptable level will determine the number of cycles that will be necessary.

Pressure purging involves the introduction of the purge gas under pressure to dilute the component gas. Then the vessel is relieved to atmosphere (or other treatment device depending on the gas component to be diluted).  Then additional pressure cycles can be executed to reach the desired component level.

Sweep-through purging is common used for vessels that are not rated for sufficient pressure or vacuum conditions.  Purge gas enters one connections and is simultaneously withdrawn from another connection until the component level is within acceptable limits.

Reference: CEP Magazine, February 2001

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