Styrolution intends to close its polystyrene site in Sweden

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In order to further strengthen its polystyrene (PS) business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Styrolution, the global leader in the styrenics industry, intends to close its 80,000 tonne PS production site located in Trelleborg, Sweden, reported the company on its site.

The closure of the facility is scheduled to occur by the end of 2014 and will affect all 51 employees working at the site.

Styrolution will continue to serve customers from its polystyrene sites located in Antwerp, Belgium and Wingles, France with the same quality, reliability and service standards they have come to expect from the company.

The planned closure is aimed at bolstering the long-term economic sustainability of Styrolution's PS business in EMEA by further enhancing cost structures and maximizing utilization of its production assets in Antwerp and Wingles.

Polystyrene is and will remain a strong pillar in Styrolution's portfolio, providing a robust commercial foundation for the implementation of its Triple Shift growth strategy, which calls for a focus on styrenic specialties and ABS Standard, as well as emerging markets and higher-growth industries.

Kevin McQuade, President EMEA, Styrolution: "The polystyrene market in Europe has been characterized by decreasing demand, overcapacity and underutilization. These market dynamics have also affected Styrolution's polystyrene business in the region, making it necessary for the company to take this difficult step announced today. We acknowledge the impact this decision will have on our colleagues in Trelleborg who have made an outstanding contribution to the company. Styrolution remains fully committed to its polystyrene business and we are confident this measure will further strengthen our leading position in this important product segment in the region."

As MRC wrote previously, in May 2014, Styrolution inaugurated a new line for the high performance styrenic specialty product Absolan at its Katol site located in Gujarat, India. The new 40,000 mt line intends to meet the growing demand for Absolan across key growth industries in India, such as household, electronics, automotive.

The Styrolution Group GmbH is a global provider of styrenics , headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. The company is a joint venture between BASF (50%) and INEOS (50%), were merged into the main styrene operations of the two partners. Its main focus is on the production of monomer, polystyrene, styrenic specialties, and ABS. The company offers styrene plastics for a variety of everyday products from different industries, such as automotive, electronics, construction, household, leisure, packaging, medicine and health.

Shell set to buy land in Beaver County for potential ethane cracker

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to buy the former Horsehead Holdings Corp. zinc smelter site in Beaver County as it continues to mull a decision on building a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker there, as per TribLIVE.

Shell said its decision to exercise a purchase option agreement that it extended for more than two years does not signal a final plan to move ahead with the project along the Ohio River in Center and Potter. It is awaiting environmental permits from the state and evaluating the economics of the plant, which would convert ethane from natural gas drilling into chemicals used to make plastic.

"We will make that decision when our full project evaluation is complete," spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said, noting the company is doing some work on the land and nearby roads. "The land purchase is a necessary step for Shell to advance the permitting process and allows us to proceed with some preliminary site development work."

Neither Shell nor Horsehead disclosed the purchase price and they did not set a closing date on the deal.

As MRC reported earlier, last August, Shell started a two-month bidding period to solicit ethane commitments from Marcellus Shale operators for its proposed Beaver County cracker. Ethane, a natural gas liquid found in shale gas in western Pennsylvania, can be turned into ethylene. If Shell Chemical decides to build the first world-scale cracker in the Marcellus region, some of its ethane would come from Shell's own oil and gas production in the region.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Magna to open new car parts plant in Slovakia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Magna International Inc. is aiming to set up a new production facility in Malacky, in Slovakia’s western part, said Plasticsnews.

The factory will make various plastic interior car components, the country’s state-run Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) said in a statement.

Under the plan, the Aurora, Ontario-headquartered manufacturer will invest about 8.5 million euros in constructing its new plant. The project is expected to create some 160 jobs in Malacky, according to data from the agency.

On a related note, South Korea’s Hyunnam SK, a subsidiary of Youngsan Glonet, has launched works to build a new production facility in Krasno nad Kysucou, in north-western Slovakia, the statement said. The project is estimated to be worth 12 million euros, and it will create about 750 new jobs. The Slovak factory is to produce a wide range of automotive parts with the use of plastics. The company’s product range includes wiper blades, hoses, plugs and lamps.

Magna owns three manufacturing and assembly facilities in Slovakia, which are operated by a total of 1,100 employees, according to figures from the company. With Eastern Europe and Russia as key growth regions, we have more than 159 facilities and over 46,500 employees throughout Europe. As MRC informed earlier, the Russian company "Avtotor Holding" and Magna International Europe signed an agreement on cooperation in the creation of automotive cluster in the Kaliningrad region. As per the agreement the parterns plan to build 21 plants, 15 of which - for the production of automotive components.

Magna International is headquartered in Aurora, Ont.

Evonik offers environmentally friendly alternative for microplastics (PE beads) in exfoliants

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik Industries, Essen, is launching two new products to replace microplastics in peeling products: the specialty silica SIPERNAT 2200 PC and SIPERNAT 22 PC, as per the company's press release.

SIPERNAT 2200 PC and SIPERNAT 22 PC are listed as nature-identical by the International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association (NATRUE), a globally active association for the promotion of natural skin care. This means the substance (in this case, silica or SiO2) is already found naturally, but is not usually available in the required purity. Cosmetic products have very high purity standards. Although synthetic amorphous silica is identical to naturally occurring silica (such as sand) in chemical terms, its purity is significantly higher than natural silica due to the technical production process at Evonik.

In the past, cosmetic peeling products frequently contained microscopically small particles of polyethylene and polypropylene. "All leading manufacturers of cosmetics and body care products are currently working to replace abrasive microplastics particles," explains Andreas Fischer, the head of the Silica Business Line of the Evonik Resource Efficiency Segment. The background of this trend is the public debate about oceanic pollution caused by microplastics. In addition to plastic waste as the main cause, the discussion has also brought up synthetic particles in cosmetics. "The specialty silica SIPERNAT with its high purity level is an ideal solution because it fully meets the requirements for abrasive particles," notes Fischer.

Compared to other replacement substances for polyethylene, the specialty silica SIPERNAT also represents a viable economic alternative. The production at the industrial scale ensures economic, worldwide availability. At the same time, customers benefit from Evonik's decades of production and process experience as well as from the specific properties of SIPERNAT, which can be quickly and easily integrated into the corresponding applications.

The specialty chemicals company produces SIPERNAT PC grades in Europe; an expansion of the production to Asia and North America is in the planning stage. Uniform specifications and strict microbiological controls ensure that every customer is supplied reliably with consistently high quality.

As MRC wrote before, Evonik Industries is paving the way for a new technology whose applications include automotive finishes that are more scratch-resistant than ever before. The specialty chemicals company has developed an industrial-scale method for producing silane-modified binders for automotive finishes. The advantage of these silane-modified binders: silane groups increase crosslinking density, making it possible to create automotive finishes that are flexible yet harder, leading to improved scratch resistance.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In fiscal 2013 more than 33,500 employees generated sales of around EUR12.9 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about EUR2.0 billion.

Bayer MaterialScience launched production of plastics component in eastern Germany

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Bayer MaterialScience launched production of temperature-resistant, high-performance plastic in eastern Germany, as per the producer's press-release.

An additional chemical plant for the production of a key component for the material Apec was brought on stream in eastern Germany. The operator is the German-Japanese joint venture, Hi-Bis, in which Bayer MaterialScience holds an interest. Hi-Bis doubled the production capacity in the chemical industry center of Bitterfeld to 10,000 metric tons per year with the roughly 50 million euro plant.

Hi-Bis produces a precursor for Apec known as special bisphenols. The company brought an initial facility for these materials on stream in 2004. It was also the first Japanese investment at all in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

Speaking on behalf of Bayer MaterialScience, Dr. Rainer Rettig, Head of Sales for Europe and other regions, said that Apec sales continue to grow unabated well above the rate for the entire plastics market, which is roughly five percent per year. Apec is particularly well suited for articles with demanding requirements that must withstand high temperatures. Examples include the lenses of automotive headlights, housings for luminaires or hot air nozzles in hair dryers.

Bayer MaterialScience produces Apec at its site in Antwerp, Belgium. The company holds a ten percent interest in Hi-Bis. The remaining shares are held by the Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co (35%) and its Honshu Chemical Industry subsidiary (55%). The Bayer Group maintains an important production site in Bitterfeld, which is also home to other companies from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

As MRC wrote before, Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) plans to invest EUR 15 million in the construction of a production line at its Dormagen site, which will use CO2 to produce a precursor for premium polyurethane foam. The line will have an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons.

With 2013 sales of EUR 11.2 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.