BASF bullish on North American auto market

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The North American performance materials unit of BASF SE expects its 2015 growth to come from the automotive, consumer and industrial markets, said Plasticsnews.

"We’re optimistic about 2015, but not equally in every market," Senior Vice President Juan Carlos Ordonez said in a news conference at NPE 2015 in Orlando. "We’re more positive in automotive, which surprised us again in growth [in 2014]. We’ve also got good expectations in consumer and industrial, but less so in construction," he added.

"Commercial construction is positive in hotels and restaurants, but not residential." Lower oil and gasoline prices have had a mixed impact on BASF’s business, according to Ordonez.

North America generates 20 percent of sales and profit for the performance materials unit. The unit has 100 manufacturing plants and 27 research and development sites in North America. Its R&D sites employ 1,850.
Also at the NPE event, BASF highlighted results of its Ultrasim simulation software, which has 90 to 95 percent accuracy in predicting the performance of parts using BASF materials, according to technical development director Mark Minnichelli. He cited three recent successful uses of Ultrasim using Ultramid-brand nylon 6.

Bemis Manufacturing Co. used Ultramid nylon in its Innova shopping cart design for Target Corp. The cart has an HDPE basket over a nylon 6 structure. It has twice the durability of steel models and is 100 percent recyclable, Minnichelli said.

Faurecia used Ultrasim to design a lightweight auto seatback. The product provides 30 to 40 percent mass savings by using a glass-filled Ultramid grade, reducing part weight by 6 pounds per vehicle.

A solar panel mount made by Solega provided weight reduction of almost 4 pounds, according to Minnichelli. The mount keeps solar photovoltaic panels in place and can withstand greater loads by using a glass-filled Ultramid, he added.

As MRC informed earlier, in September 2014, BASF announced the start-up of a new butadiene extraction plant at its Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. The plant has an annual production capacity of 155,000 metric tons.

BASF is based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, with North American headquarters in Florham Park, N.J. The firm posted sales of USD83.2 billion in 2014, up almost 1 percent vs. 2013.

BASF is the largest diversified chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF had sales of over EUR74 billion in 2014 and over 113,000 employees as of the end of the year.

Arkema brings new resins reactor online in Brazil

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Coating Resins business of Arkema has expanded acrylic resin manufacturing capacity in Aracariguama, Brazil by 60%, according to the company's statement.

The new reactor will enable manufacturing of Arkema’s product chemistries previously unavailable in the region.

With the start-up of the new reactor, Arkema has improved virtually every aspect of the company’s latex production in Brazil, including manufacturing, logistics and shipping, storage, filtration and the capabilities of the reactor itself.

"These improvements will enable us to begin migrating production capabilities and product lines currently available in other parts of the world to the facility in Brazil," Eric Schmitt, President, Arkema Quimica Ltda. Brazil, explained. "We can now provide customers local manufacturing of innovative, market-leading products, produced in a modern, automated facility with a focus on consistent, repeatable quality, and environmental responsibility."

Products manufactured at the plant will now include a much wider range of chemistries, including 100% acrylic, styrene acrylic, vinyl acrylic, vinyl VeoVa and polyvinyl acetate (PVA). These products are used across many traditional and emerging applications in industries such as architectural coatings, industrial coatings, pressure sensitive adhesives and construction adhesives, textiles, sealants and waterproofing membranes.

As production ramps up, Arkema will begin to introduce new products based on demand and market potential. The first products added to the production capabilities of the new facility include:

- ENCOR 265 BR, a high scrubbing styrene acrylic resin for use in architectural coatings;
- ENCOR DT 211 BR, a 100% acrylic ideally suited for fast-dry traffic paints;
- ENCOR 161 BR styrene acrylic latex for use in mortars and grouts, tile adhesives and waterproofing membranes, as well as cement-based skim coats, gap fillers, and in decorative concrete applications;
- ENCOR 413 BR, an acrylic emulsion polymer specifically developed for use in the polymer modification of Portland cement and other hydraulic cement compositions;
- ENCOR 9801 BR acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive for packaging tape applications;
- ENCOR 9466 BR, a high solids acrylic pressure sensitive adhesive for label applications.

"Arkema has been investing consistently to expand our global presence in resins" said Carlos Lion, Market Manager for Arkema Coating Resins in South America. "Local production in Brazil will allow us to better serve our current customers while, at the same time, offering formulators in various market areas, such as coatings, construction and adhesives, more competitive access to the raw materials they need."

As MRC wrote previously, last year, Arkema announced the construction of a new organic peroxide plant on its Changshu site in China. This investment will help double the site’s production capacity. By doubling its production capacity in China, Arkema will continue to support the strong growth in the organic peroxide market in Asia, a region in which the Group is also a producer in India, South Korea and Japan. The new Changshu plant is due to come on stream in early 2016.

Arkema is a leading European supplier of chlorochemicals and PVC. Kynar and Kynar Flex are registered trademarks of Arkema Inc. With operations in nearly 50 countries, about 19,000 employees, and research centers in North America, France and Asia, Arkema generates pro forma annual revenue of EUR7.5 billion (USD9.5 billion), and holds leadership positions in all its markets with a portfolio of internationally recognized brands.

Henan Shenma not to shut PVC plant in 2015 for maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Henan Shenma Chlorine Alkali is not in plans to undertake a maintenance turnaround at its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in 2015, reported Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the plant is likely to undergo a maintenance turnaround in 2016, though a specific schedule for the same has not been worked out.

Located at Henan in China, the plant has a production capacity of 450,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote before, last time Henan Shenma Chlorine Alkali shut down its PVC plant in Henan province of China for maintenance turnaround on May 6, 2014. It stayed off-stream for around two weeks.

Besides, we remind that Shandong Dongyue restarted its PVC plant in early March 2015, following maintenance turnaround. It was shut on February 6, 2015. Located in Shandong province, China, the plant has a production capacity of 120,000 mt/year.

Sika Q1 net sales down 0.9%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Swiss specialty chemicals company Sika AG reported that its net sales for the first quarter of 2015 declined 0.9% to 1.195 billion Swiss francs from 1.206 billion francs in the same quarter last year, as per Reuters.

However, at constant exchange rates, sales for the quarter rose by 5.1% to 1.195 billion francs. Gains in all regions contributed to this impressive performance, with North and Latin America even posting double-digit growth.

It is planned to open between seven and nine factories in 2015.

Sika expects sales growth of 6% to 8% at constant exchange rates, in line with Strategy 2018. The strong Swiss franc remains a considerable challenge for the margins. However, with raw materials prices falling and in view of the success of Sika's growth model, the company aims to achieve a slight improvement in margins compared with the previous year. Nevertheless, the unknown outcome of Saint-Gobain's hostile takeover bid remains a major element of uncertainty in this forecast.

As MRC informed earlier, Saint-Gobain's attempted takeover of Switzerland's Sika took another twist as two investors said they will appeal a ruling stipulating that the French building materials company is not required to make an offer for all of Sika's shares.

Sika is a specialty chemicals company with a leading position in the development and production of systems and products for bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing and protecting in the building sector and the motor vehicle industry. Sika has subsidiaries in 90 countries around the world and manufactures in over 160 factories. Its more than 16,000 employees generated annual sales of CHF 5.6 billion in 2014.

Engineering plastics market in US to reach 5.1 bn pounds in 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Demand for engineering plastics in the US is expected to rise 2.6% per year to reach 5.1 billion pounds in 2019 from 4.5 bn in 2014, as per Business Standard.

"Replacement of metal parts with engineering plastics will continue to drive growth, as will new technological advancements that allow engineering plastics to penetrate new applications. Demand for engineering plastics will be tempered by weak growth in mature markets, in addition to increasing competition from lower cost commodity resins," added the report.

The largest markets for engineering plastics will continue to be the motor vehicle and electrical and electronic markets. The motor vehicle market will increasingly rely on engineering plastics to reduce vehicle weight in order to improve fuel efficiency. However, the construction and the medical and consumer markets will provide the fastest growth.

Nylon, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and polycarbonate will continue to be the three largest engineering plastics by volume, accounting for three-quarters of total demand in 2019. Nylon will post the most rapid increases of the three and will remain the largest engineering plastic. Joseph Kocian, analyst, Freedonia, said, "This growth will be mainly driven by nylon supplanting metals in underhood motor vehicle applications."

Gains for ABS will be the slowest of all engineering plastics, restrained by competition from lower-cost resins and maturity in major applications. Polycarbonate will benefit from strong growth in the construction and the medical and consumer markets, but overall will track the industry average due to the continued decline in CD and DVD sales.

Smaller-volume engineering plastics such as polyphenylene sulfide, sulfone polymers, fluoropolymers, and polyketones will exhibit the fastest growth. Specialised use in mature markets, as well as utilisation in new products such as advanced batteries, photovoltaic modules, and medical implants, will drive overall demand. These resins will see greater use in electrical and electronic and motor vehicle markets, where they are typically used to fill specific high-temperature needs and their greater cost can be economically justified.