Asahi Kasei to construct new plant for prodution of new transparent polymer for optical applications

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei Chemicals has developed AZP as a new optical polymer featuring zero birefringence achieved through novel molecular design. Manufacturing facilities for AZP will be constructed at the company’s Chiba Plant (Sodegaura, Chiba, Japan), with start-up scheduled for early next year, reported the company on its site.

Applications for AZP are anticipated in high-performance displays and various optical components.

As information technology continues to advance, TVs, PCs, smartphones, and in-car navigation systems increasingly require displays that provide higher definition, more efficient utilization of light, and lower power consumption. Developed by Asahi Kasei Chemicals, AZP meets these emerging market needs as the world’s first plastic material featuring zero birefringence, achieved through novel molecular design.

As conventional polymers for displays have birefringence characteristics, some of the light passing through is refracted or leaked, resulting in diminished contrast and lower clarity. Because it has no birefringence, AZP enables clearer images and more efficient utilization of light. With its light weight and easy processability, AZP is the ideal substitute for glass in display screens.

Asahi Kasei Chemicals will continue to develop new applications for AZP and provide high-quality and high-performance products, while studying further expansions of production capacity in accordance with market needs.

As MRC wrote previously, Asahi Kasei’s (Tokyo, Japan) Fibers division will expand production capacity for polypropylene spunbond nonwovens in Thailand at its subsidiary Asahi Kasei Spunbond (Thailand) Co. AKST will add a new production line of 20,000 metric tons per year capacity which, combined with its existing production line, will double its capacity for spunbond nonwovens to 40,000 m.t/yr. The investment for the capacity expansion is approximately USD5 billion, with a scheduled startup of November 2015.

DAK Americas focusing on PET growth and recycling in Argentina

МОSCOW (MRC) -- DAK Americas expects to introduce local production of its heat-set Laser+HS PET resin for hot-fill applications with PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. in the third quarter of this year, a product long available in the United States but under review by Argentine clients for more than two years, said Plasticsnews.

As part of the Alpek unit of Mexican conglomerate Alfa SAB de CV, DAK Americas wants to help stimulate hot-fill potential in Argentina and neighboring markets after seeing regional PET consumption hit a ceiling in recent years, said Emilio Larranaga, sales and marketing director for PET resins in Argentina.

DAK is currently Argentina’s only PET producer, having acquired its local plant from Eastman Chemical Co. in 2008. The company produced roughly 195,000 metric tons of PET last year while operating at full capacity, with 80% of its resin sold domestically.

Following DAK’s acquisition in May of recycled PET resin producer CabelmaPET SA in Buenos Aires, the company is integrating operations and plans to start producing a single-pellet solution by the end of this year, said Marcelo Luis Blois, corporate affairs manager in Argentina.

CabelmaPET’s recycling facility reprocesses as much as 23,000 metric tons of bottles per year, producing more than 12,000 metric tons of post-consumer PET pellets in 2013, sold mainly to Coca-Cola.

Many DAK Americas clients are operating separate lines for virgin and recycled PET resins that mix the two on-site. With the CabelmaPET recycled resin now in-house, DAK’s single pellet solution will include 25% recycled content.

The CabelmaPET acquisition will also help DAK eventually reduce its dependence on imported PET raw materials in Argentina, of which the company now imports 100%.

The national PET collection rate is roughly 30% now, Larranaga said, but that rate needs to reach at least 50% for DAK to self-supply one fourth of its resin needs. The company is still only developing a game plan on how to stimulate collection growth, and couldn’t provide details on an investment budget for the project.

As MRC wrote before, DAK Americas LLC (DAK) announced the planned closure of all operations at its Cape Fear Site, near Wilmington, NC. The site was built in the late 1960's and acquired by DAK Americas in 2001. Approximately, 350 full service employees and 250 contract workers are employed on-site to produce PTA, PET resins and polyester staple fibers.

DAK Americas is one of the largest producers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins, used in carbonated soft drink and water bottles. It also makes terephthalic acid (TPA) monomers, used in PSF and PET products, and specialty polymers, sold in markets such as film and packaging and nonwovens. DAK Americas maintains manufacturing facilities in the Carolinas and Mississippi in the US as well as in Mexico. Alpek, a subsidiary of Mexican industrial giant Alfa, S.A. de C.V., owns DAK Americas.

Xiaomi selects three SABIC materials to develop its new ultra-slim smartphone

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business enabled mobile internet company Xiaomi to develop its Mi3 smartphone that addresses growing consumer requirements such as thinner, more durable walls, and an antenna-integrated frame, reported Sabic on its site.

Since their inception, manufacturers have worked to make smartphones increasingly thin, compact and lightweight to keep pace with growing consumer demands. In addition, an emphasis on aesthetics has led consumers to increasingly value the look and feel of a device, alongside its functionality, further challenging OEMs to design a phone that is smaller yet visually appealing. Xiaomi selected SABIC’s LNP THERMOCOMP compound, LNP THERMOCOMP LDS and LEXAN EXL resin to create a smartphone that met complex technical specifications without sacrificing design and aesthetic appeal, allowing it to stand apart from the competition.

"As consumers continue to seek out smaller, thinner smartphone devices that are multi-functional, manufacturers are increasingly looking for new ways to consolidate parts while ensuring that the materials comprising the more compact device remain compatible," said Matthew Gray, Marketing Director, Consumer Electronics, Innovative Plastics. "SABIC delivered a combination of materials which enabled Xiaomi to integrate the antenna into the frame of the phone, which helped to reduce the part space and weight of the phone without sacrificing design or performance. Additionally, SABIC’s ability to offer all three materials used in the phone saved the customer time in validating compatibility, enabling them to develop this industry leading smartphone at an excellent value."

SABIC’s new grade of LNP THERMOCOMP compound, along with SABIC’s LNP THERMOCOMP LDS, was used by Xiaomi to create a new smartphone frame, which required strength, stiffness and impact resistance, as well as the integrated antenna. This feature is attractive because it can reduce the size of the smartphone device and eliminate the secondary process of incorporating a separate antenna into the phone, both of which may help the customer to reduce assembly time and cost. Additionally, SABIC’S LEXAN EXL resin was selected to allow for rich, jewel-toned colors for the backing of the device.

The two LNP THERMOCOMP compounds provided Xiaomi with the material solution needed to develop a phone with thin but durable walls while also enabling the use of laser direct structuring processing to integrate the antenna into the frame. Xiaomi also selected LNP THERMOCOMP LDS compound for the laser direct structuring of the antenna itself.

As MRC informed earlier, designed specifically to help customers in the beverage industry reduce transportation losses, SABIC has recently broadened its stretch film portfolio to include one of the first commercially available materials in Europe to combine polypropylene (PP) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE).

SABIC is a diversified manufacturing company, active in chemicals and intermediates, industrial polymers, fertilizers and metals. It is the largest public company in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest company in the Middle East.
SABIC is currently the second largest global ethylene glycol producer and is expected to become number one after the introduction of these new projects. SABIC is the third largest polyethylene manufacturer, the fourth largest polyolefins manufacturer and the fourth largest polypropylene manufacturer. It is also the world's largest producer of mono-ethylene glycol, MTBE, granular urea, polyphenylene and polyether imide.

PVC imports to Russia decreased by 47% in January - May

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) in Russia decreased by 47% in the first five months of this year, compared with the same time a year earlier on the back of the reduction of the sluggish demand for finished PVC products, according to MRC DataScope.

Russia's SPVC imports seasonally increased to 36,800 tonnes in May, compared with 25,000 tonnes in the same time a year earlier. Total SPVC imports in Russia decreased to 106,700 tonnes in January - May 2014, compared with about 200,000 tonnes year on year. Significant decline in demand for finished PVC products in the current year made many converters buy less volumes. Besides, banks restricted crediting because of the lack of liquidity, which also worsened the situation in the market.

Structure of SPVC imports in May was as follows. SPVC imports from the United States last month was 4,700 tonnes, compared with 2,000 tonnes in April. Total imports of US resin in Russia decreased to 24,400 tonnes in the first five months of this year, compared with 92,000 tonnes year on year. Such a serious decline in US SPVC imports resulted from the high level of export prices, which was aggravated by the rouble devaluation.

Russia's imports of Chinese acetylene PVC in May rose to 25,700 tonnes, compared with 14,800 tonnes in April. Total imports of Chinese acetylene PVC in Russia decreased to 56,700 tonnes in January - May 2014, down 33% year on year. Imports of Chinese PVC are expected to rise in the next few months because of stable low export prices and a seasonal increase in demand in the Russian market.

Imports of European PVC in Russia remained weak because of high prices; May imports of European PVC were about 4,000 tonnes, compared with 2,500 tonnes in April. Total imports of European PVC in Russia were 16,700 tonnes in the first five months of the year, compared with 17,500 tonnes year on year.


Ineos ChlorVinyls raises July prices of caustic soda

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos ChlorVinyls, one of the major chlor-alkali producers in Europe, has announced an increase in its list prices of caustic soda, reported the Switzerland-based producer on its site.

Thus, Ineos' caustic soda prices are to increase by EUR60 per dry metric tonne with effect from 1 July 2014.

As MRC informed previously, Ineos ChlorVinyls raised its list prices of caustic soda by EUR20 per dry metric tonne from 1 April 2014.

Ineos ChlorVinyls is one of the major chlor-alkali producers in Europe, a global leader in chlorine derivatives and Europe's largest PVC manufacturer.