BASF cooperates with partners to introduce online control of complex batch processes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A consortium of industrial companies, including BASF, universities and research institutes recently launched project RECOBA (Cross-sectorial REal time sensing, advanced COntrol and optimization of BAtch processes, saving energy and raw materials), reported BASF on its site.

Project participants will make use of an online Model Predictive Control (MPC) of complex batch processes for the production of emulsion polymers, steel and silicon through the application of new sensor technologies, process models and automation tools.

The RECOBA project is being funded for its three-year term with EUR6 million provided by the European Union. The aim of the project is to optimize the efficiency and flexibility of different kinds of batch processes, thus improving the competitiveness of a significant portion of the European batch process industry.

Under the project coordination of BASF SE, the RECOBA partners include ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG, Germany; ELKEM AS Technology, Norway; University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; RWTH Aachen University, Germany; University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Czech Republic; the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Spain; VDEh-Betriebsforschungsinstitut GmbH, Germany; Cybernetica AS, Norway; and Minkon Sp. z o.o., Poland.

This group will focus on three different material systems to demonstrate the cross-sectorial applicability of developed sensors, optimization and control methods, with the goal of optimizing product quality, energy consumption, raw materials utilization and production costs of the considered processes.

As part of its contribution to the RECOBA project, BASF will focus on the online Model Predictive Control of an emulsion co-polymerization process. "Our goal is to replace the current process control, which is based on repetition at a fixed schedule, by the model-based online process control," said Dr. Libor Seda, BASF project lead.

As MRC wrote before, BASF, the world's petrochemical major, is further strengthening its production footprint in Asia Pacific with the start-up of its first production plant for polymer dispersions in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia in January 2015. This production plant is built at the existing BASF production site, located in the Pasir Gudang Industrial Park of the Johor Free Trade Zone. The plant is BASF’s third polymer dispersions plant in ASEAN, complementing the existing dispersions plants in Jakarta and Merak, Indonesia.

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. BASF had sales of over EUR74 billion in 2014 and over 113,000 employees as of the end of the year.

Arkema increased prices of PVC additives in Europe and Middle East

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema, a France-based chemical manufacturer, has announced a price increase and a product range simplification of its Durastrength acrylic impact modifiers and its Plastistrength processing aids in Europe, including Russia, and the Middle-East, said the producer on its site.

Thus, Arkema has increased the prices of its Durastrength acrylic impact modifiers and its Plastistrength processing aids. Increases will range typically from 5% to 10%, depending on grades and current prices and are dictated by recent movements on main raw materials.

Arkema also plans to streamline its product line over 2015 to reduce complexity for customers and for Arkema. In this view, Arkema Sales and technical organization will contact customers directly regarding specific initiatives affected by these actions.

"These actions are critical to supporting reinvestment economics in a market characterized by its volatility, its competitiveness and constant need for innovation", said Stephane Guinot, Arkema Plastic Additives Business Director. "We remain steadfast in our drive to improve service levels, accelerate productivity gains and maintain our innovation pace that benefit our customers."

Arkema’s Plastistrength processing aids help the processing of PVC by promoting fusion, improving melt strength, eliminating surface defects and decreasing plate out. They also enhance formulation metal release properties in extrusion and calendering applications while offering improved cost performance versus traditional lubricant packages.

Durastrength acrylic impact modifiers are designed to deliver optimum cost and performance in rigid and flexible PVC applications for window profiles, siding, fence, deck, pipe and injection molding applications.

As MRC wrote earlier, starting March 1, 2015, Arkema raised prices for its whole Evatane (high content ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer) range by EUR100/tonne. During the past months, the EVA market was undergoing a price erosion that affected profitability. Due to the price hike of ethylene, the company was forced to pass this increase to the market.

Marketed under the trademark Evatane, Arkema's EVA products are functional polyolefins used in highly diverse industrial applications, including hot-melt, cables, multilayer packaging films, technical polymers modification, solar panels, petroleum additives, bitumen and inks.

Arkema with annual revenue of EUR7.6 billion is a leading European supplier of chlorochemicals and PVC. Kynar and Kynar Flex are registered trademarks of Arkema Inc. Arkema operates 11 organic peroxide plants on the three continents.

Qatari investors ink USD5 bln deal for 49% stake in Shandong Dongming Petchem stake

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Qatar's Qatra for Investment & Development (QID Group) and Hamad Bin Suhaim Enterprises have signed an initial deal to acquire 49 percent of China's Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group worth USD5 billion, said Reuters, citing executives from the firms.

The deal is expected to be finalised by the forth quarter of this year, with the cash used to finance a number of projects that Shandong is currently working on, Ibrahim El-Tinay, chief executive of QID, told reporters at a press conference in Doha.

"These projects will include building 1,000 petrol stations across six provinces in China and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal with a 3 million ton per annum capacity in the region of Qinzhou," he said.

Once the acquisition deal is finalised then completion dates for these projects will be set, El-Tinay added. How the USD5 billion investment would be split between the two Qatari investors was not disclosed.

The stations will be built in a 300-kilometre radius of the company's Heze refinery in Shandong province in eastern China, which would provide a third of its output as supply to the stations, according to a joint statement from the three parties.

The LNG terminal will be built in the municipal region of Qinzhou in southern China and will include the construction of a terminal, jetty, regasification facilities and storage.

"Following the construction of this terminal, we hope that Qatar will have the priority in providing it with supplies," El-Tinay added.

China's natural gas demand grew by 5.6 percent last year to 178.6 billion cubic metres (bcm). Of that demand, 127.9 bcm was supplied by domestic sources, while 57.8 bcm was imported by pipeline or as LNG.

As MRC informed earlier, Qatar Petroleum and Shell have decided not to proceed with the proposed Al Karaana petrochemicals project, and to stop further work on the project. The decision came after a careful and thorough evaluation of commercial quotations from EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) bidders, which showed high capital costs rendering it commercially unfeasible, particularly in the current economic climate prevailing in the energy industry.


Idemitsu delays scheduled cracker maintenance at Chiba by two months

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co has announced a two month delay in its original plans to shut the 414,000 tpa naphtha cracker at Chiba, as per Congoo.

Maintenance at the plant was scheduled for early April, but has been deferred to early June 2015. The move comes in line with government regulations introduced in July to require oil distributors to lower their capacity effectively by 10 pct by the end of March 2017.

Idemitsu said that further cuts to its refining capacity totalling some 35,000 bbl/day are planned, although it did not outline further details about those cuts.

Idemitsu Kosan is a Japanese petroleum company. It owns and operates oil platforms, refineries and produces and sells petroleum, oils and petrochemical products. The company runs two petrochemical plants in Chiba and Tokuyama. The two naphtha crackers can produce up to 997,000 tonnes of ethylene per year.

DSM completes acquisition of Chinese producer Aland

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, today announces it has finalized the acquisition of Aland, a Hong Kong-based company producing vitamin C in mainland China, said the producer in its press release.

The acquisition was announced on 11 July 2014.

As MRC informed earlier, Royal DSM, the Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, and CVC Capital Partners (CVC), one of the world’s leading investment advisory firms, has announced a partnership for DSM’s activities in Polymer Intermediates (caprolactam and acrylonitrile) and Composite Resins through the formation of a new company, provisionally called NewCo.

Aland was founded in 1990 and is one of the leading Vitamin C manufacturers in China. It has a production facility in Jingjiang, Jiangsu Province in China. In 2014 the company realized net sales of about USD 110 million in vitamin C with around 1,800 employees. The transaction excludes Aland’s consumer health activities.

Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. 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.