US ethylene spot prices rose on potential demand

(ICIS) -- US ethylene spot prices rose this week on potential demand related to scheduled cracker maintenance over the next three months, market sources said on Friday.

Ethylene for July traded as high as 61.50 cents/lb (USD 1.356/tonne, EUR 949/tonne) this week, rising on average by 7% from deals done at 55.50-59.50 cents/lb a week earlier. The product was offered at 63 cents/lb on Friday against a 60 cent/lb bid.

No cracker outages were heard in the US this week, but market sources cited a series of turnarounds coming up over the next few months as the likely reason behind the uptrend.

Among the shutdowns is Formosa's Point Comfort cracker 2 in Texas, which will go down on 1 September for 35-40 days. The unit has 816 KTa of ethylene capacity.


South Korea's petrochemical exports jumped to USD 3.57 bln

(ICIS) -- South Korea's petrochemical exports jumped 23.2% year on year to USD 3.57bn (EUR 2.50bn) in June, with the strong growth likely to continue in July on the back of rising crude oil prices, an analyst said on Monday.

Oil prices last month surged 30% year on year, prompting producers to hike product prices, said Hong Chanyang, a petrochemicals industry analyst at Seoul-based Shinhan Investment Corp.

Overseas shipments of ethylene from South Korea surged 41.5% year on year to 79,356 tonnes in June, while exports of polypropylene (PP) soared 40% to 85,798 tonnes, data from Korea International Trade Association (KITA) showed.

Exports of propylene jumped 89.5% year on year to 78,840 tonnes in June, while shipments of paraxylene (PX) rose 66.3% to 149,446 tonnes, the data showed.


Elasto plans to begin compounding and marketing its plastics in China

(PlasticsToday) -- Thermoplastic elastomer supplier Elasto already has two production facilities in Europe, but its third will be located further afield as the company has announced plans to begin compounding and marketing its plastics in China. The decision to build there comes just seven months after the TPE compounder signed a distribution agreement with another company for China.

Elasto is the former thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) business of the Vita Group, which it sold to Hexpol in April 2010. Hexpol is a compounder of thermoplastics and TPEs as well as a processor of wheels made from polyurethane, other plastics and rubber. The company is headquartered in Sweden but has a global footprint.

The new China compounding operation is expected to come on-stream in the second half of 2012. It will initially focus on producing exactly those materials mentioned in the distribution agreement with Telko Shanghai. The new compounding facility will operate from Hexpol's existing site near Guangzhou.


C&J Industries production capabilities boosted 50%

(PlasticsToday) -- C&J Industries (Meadville, PA) now has three Class VIII cleanrooms housing a total of 25 injection molding machines following the completion of a two-phase $6 million plant expansion that boosted production capabilities for the pharmaceutical and medical contract manufacturing firm by more than 50%. The injection molding machines that were added range in size from 20 tons, with a .56-oz shot, to 390 tons, with a 37.5-oz shot. All but one of the presses are Toshiba all-electrics.

C&J has also opened a new and expanded QA lab, as part of the expansion, fully equipping it to accommodate both new tooling and program development, as well as on-going surveillance and monitoring of existing production. The third phase of the building expansion will include the transfer of 17 presses from the general molding room to a nearly finished 12,000-sq-ft addition. That expansion will be a white room and house machines ranging in size from 55 tons, with a 2-oz shot, up to 720 tons, with a 102-oz shot.

The final stages of the expansion, Phases IV and V, entail expansion and renovation of the current contract manufacturing room, converting it into a white assembly room. Once complete, C&J will have a Class VIII medical device assembly room, with updates on these phases to be announced in the next 2-3 months.


BASF to start joint research programme on magnetocaloric materials

(BASF) -- The Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) in the Netherlands and BASF are to start another joint research programme on magnetocaloric materials. This new class of materials may help to make today's cooling systems more efficient and quieter. This is the second joint research project between FOM and BASF and it has a duration of four years. "We aim to achieve an even better understanding of the fundamental magnetocaloric principles, which will help us to develop new materials with improved properties and we will investigate the best routes for large-scale production," says programme leader Prof. Dr. Ekkes Bruck (Delft University of Technology).

FOM and BASF started their cooperation in 2008. The previous research programme yielded new insights into the physics underlying the giant magnetocaloric effect. Together with their industrial partners the researchers are working on the market introduction of the first devices based on magnetocaloric materials.

Magnetocaloric materials heat up in a magnetic field and cool down again when they are removed from it. A heat pump based on magnetocaloric materials may therefore be an ideal alternative for traditional cooling cycles. Cooling systems based on the magnetocaloric effect could significantly reduce energy consumption. "Theoretical considerations reveal an energy savings potential of up to fifty percent," explains Dr. Thomas Weber, managing director of BASF Future Business GmbH.