Shell ethylene unit in Singapore shut for several months

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC is expected to shut its 800,000 tonnes per year (tpy) ethylene cracker in Bukom, Singapore, for maintenance and expansion works in the fourth quarter of 2014, trade sources informed Reuters on Friday.

The three-and-a-half-year old cracker, which uses naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and heavy liquid hydrocarbons as raw material, will be shut for at least two to three months, trade sources added.

Shell had in November 2012 announced plans to debottleneck the Singapore cracker and raise the capacity by more than 20 percent but did not elaborate on the exact shutdown time.

The steam cracker currently provides ethylene via pipelines to its 750,000 tpy monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant in Jurong Island, where it is also adding more new petrochemical units to make use of the ethylene raw material.

DSM launches solutions in advanced thermoplastic composites for automotive applications

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, is launching a custom-made solution for structural and semi-structural applications, incorporating various types of continuous fiber reinforcements embedded in its advanced polyamides, according to the company's press release.

Together with several industry partners, DSM has developed advanced thermoplastic composites, which are initially aimed at the automotive industry.

"Car makers around the world continue to improve the fuel efficiency and sustainability of their products," says Rein Borggreve, Global Research and Technology Director at DSM. "Over the years, thermoplastics have provided various solutions, in the form of lightweight components and systems in the passenger compartment, in bodywork, and under the hood. DSM materials have proven important in making this trend to replace metal by plastics possible, in such applications as the air bag system and the oil sump. Now it’s time for the next step, with advanced thermoplastic composites."

Composites containing carbon fibers, based on DSM’s EcoPaXX polyamide 410, Akulon polyamide 6 and Stanyl polyamide 46, will facilitate significant weight reduction in automobile body and chassis parts, while glass fiber reinforced composites will be targeted at reducing the weight of semi-structural components. In all cases, the lightweighting will result in increased vehicle fuel efficiency and reduced emissions of carbon dioxide.

DSM is a partner in the four-year ENLIGHT project, which also includes car companies Jaguar Cars, Renault, Volkswagen and Volvo. Part of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, ENLIGHT aims to accelerate the technological development of a portfolio of materials, which together offer a strong potential to reduce weight and overall carbon footprint in medium-to-high volume electric vehicles (EVs) that could reach the market between 2020 and 2025.

As MRC reported earlier, DSM is going to invest about EUR100 million in three new R&D facilities in Delft and Sittard-Geleen (both in the Netherlands) over the next two years.

DSM delivers innovative solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance in global markets such as food and dietary supplements, personal care, feed, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, automotive, paints, electrical and electronics, life protection, alternative energy and bio-based materials. DSM’s 23,500 employees deliver annual net sales of about EUR9 billion.

Luoyang Petrochemical to restart PP plant in late September

MOSOCW (MRC) -- Luoyang Petrochemical is in plans to restart a polypropylene (PP) plant, reported Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the plant is likely to be restarted on September 20, 2013. It was shut on August 19, 2013.

Located in Henan province, China, the plant has a production capacity of 140,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, another Chinese petrochemical producer Xuzhou Hiatian Petrochemical shut a polypropylene (PP) plant on August 26. The duration of the closure could not be ascertained. The closure has been attributed to non-availability of feedstock propylene. Located in Jiangsu, China, the plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

Dow invests into production of AFFINITY GA polyolefin elastomers for the first time in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow Elastomers, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, will begin the production of AFFINITY GA Polyolefin Elastomers (POEs) for hot melt adhesives in Tarragona, Spain, according to the company's press release.

This is a milestone for Dow, as it is the first time the production of AFFINITY GA POEs will take place in Europe.

The decision to produce AFFINITY GA POEs in Tarragona will expand Dow’s current capacity to serve the hot melt adhesives (HMA) market and is expected to come on-line in Q1 2014. Adding to existing production in Freeport, Texas, the capacity in Tarragona will enable sourcing from two continents, helping Dow to better serve its global customer base.

"The scale advantages and product flexibility delivered through this investment in Tarragona will enable Dow to continue to meet the growing and evolving needs of our customers and the industry, while bolstering our ability to react quickly to market dynamics," said Kim Ann Mink, Ph.D., Business President, Dow Elastomers, Electrical & Telecommunications. "This investment in Tarragona along with the flexibility offered at our new, previously announced High Melt Index (HMI) elastomers train on the U.S. Gulf Coast will help ensure Dow keeps pace with demands for HMAs in end-of-line packaging and non-wovens for health and hygiene applications".

"AFFINITY GA combines exceptional performance results with demonstrated cost savings to deliver end-user advantages not previously attainable with conventional formulations," said David Mitchell, Global Marketing Director, Elastomers, Electrical & Telecommunications.

AFFINITY GA POEs are specifically developed for HMA formulations and a range of polymer modification applications, and are characterized by novel chemistry that combines high flow, low crystallinity and low molecular weight, allowing processors and formulators to achieve faster flow in thermoplastic polyolefin blends that can demonstrate increased flexibility and durability, and HMAs that enhance bond strength.

As MRC reported earlier, in March 2013, Dow Chemical signed a long-term ethylene off-take agreement with a new Japanese joint venture that will allow the chemical producer to enhance its performance plastics franchise. The joint venture is being formed between Japanese companies Idemitsu Kosan and Mitsui & Co. to construct and operate a Linear Alpha Olefins unit on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Dow is the largest global producer of POEs, offering the broadest product portfolio, and has more than 40 years of experience in a variety of application and market segments, including transportation, packaging, adhesives, waterproofing membranes, health and hygiene, non-wovens, footwear and consumer solutions.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene (PS), polyurethane, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and synthetic rubber. In 2012, Dow had annual sales of approximately USD57 billion. The сompany's more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 188 sites in 36 countries across the globe.

Bank of England plans to modernise from paper

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plastic banknotes with a see-through image of Britannia are likely to replace traditional paper notes from 2016 under plans being drawn up by the Bank of England, said The Gardian.

The Bank said the wipe-clean polymer notes will be less tatty, tougher to counterfeit and last up to six times longer than cotton-paper based notes. They will also be 15% smaller, bringing English notes into line with sizes in other countries, but will remain larger than existing euro notes.

The public will have the chance to look at and feel the new notes at shopping centres across the country in a consultation process that starts immediately, with the new governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, taking a final decision on the go-ahead in December. The Sir Winston Churchill GBP5 note will be the first to be made in polymer and launched in 2016, with the Jane Austen GBP10 note following in 2017. All the notes will continue to feature the Queen and use existing colours.

Plastic notes have been in circulation in Australia for more than two decades and are being rolled out in Canada, Carney's home country, but the Bank said its polymer project began long before the new governor was appointed.

Scotland and Northern Ireland, where seven banks have the right to issue notes, will be free to continue with paper notes, opening up the possibility that cash machines in Carlisle will issue in plastic but across the border in Gretna will continue to supply in paper.

The Bank of England said that in tests, the new plastic notes do not melt until at least 120C and survive washing machines much better than existing paper notes. Despite being made from polymer pellets, the Bank said the notes will be more environmentally friendly as the manufacturing process does not use the same intensity of water as cotton-paper manufacture.

The new notes will cost around 50% more to produce, but the Bank estimates it will save ?100m as it will need to replace the notes far less frequently. But the Bank ruled out importing plastic money from China. The notes will continue to be produced at the Bank's ultra-secure plant in Debden, Essex, although subcontracted to a private company, likely to be either De La Rue, the existing maker, or Innovia, which manufactures most of the polymer notes currently in circulation across the world.