WR Grace advances FCC catalysts project in UAE

MOSCOW (MRC) -- W. R. Grace & Co has commissioned a new catalyst logistics silo terminal and finished Phase 1 of construction for the first fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts manufacturing facility in the Middle East, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing with reference to the company's announcement.

To commemorate the milestone, Grace CEO Fred Festa, pictured second from left, was joined by representatives of JV partner Al Dahra Agriculture, as well as Grace employees and contractors.

Phase 2, which represents detailed engineering, is now underway, with operations expected to begin in 2018.

The approximately USD150-million facility, located in the Kizad Industrial Zone approximately 70 km outside Abu Dhabi, will serve refineries throughout the Middle East and potentially other regions.

As MRC informed earlier, in December 2013, W.R. Grace completed the acquisition of the assets of the Polypropylene Licensing and Catalysts business of The Dow Chemical Company for a cash purchase price of USD500 mln. The acquisition includes UNIPOL Polypropylene Process Technology and makes Grace the second largest polypropylene licensor in the world based on installed capacity, advancing Grace's leadership in the broader polyolefin sector.

Iran in discussions with Maire Tecnimont for petrochemical projects at Assaluyeh

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iran and Maire Tecnimont have begun a new round of talks for building one of the Middle East's biggest petrochemical parks in Assaluyeh, Iran, reported GV with reference to Mehr News Agency.

Specifically, preliminary agreements have been reached for a 200,000-t/y acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plant and a rubber petrochemical park in Pars Special Economic Energy Zone that includes 36,000 t/y of styrene butadiene, styrene butadiene styrene and low cis-butadiene rubber to provide feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Operations are expected by mid-March 2017.

The two sides have also decided to form a joint working group to identify technical issues and new development opportunities in Iran's petrochemical sector.

As MRC informed earlier, Iran, as one of the main energy hubs in the world, with huge oil and gas reserves, is one of the leading producers of petrochemical products in the world.

In 2006, the total consumption of different polymer products was 202 million metric tons and it is estimated this figure reach to 316 million metric ton by 2016. This means only countries with huge feeding materials can be successful on raising production level, and gladly Iran is among one of those countries.

Currently number of active Iranian Petrochemical complexes are 53, with total production capacity of 59 million metric ton, producing range of polymers, chemicals, aromatics & liquid gas, located mainly at Iranian south region, next to Persian Gulf, called Assaluyeh and Mahshahr Special Economic Zones.

At the moment, there are 67 developments projects in the country which are under construction, adding 61 million metric ton on total production and estimated to fully run till 2018.

Italian plastics and rubber sector healthy and showing positive trend in 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Assocomaplast, the Italian trade association, which unites over 160 manufacturers of machinery, moulds and equipment for plastics and rubber, has completed the balance sheet of the sector for the year 2014, including ISTAT foreign trade data, reported GV.

According to the association, progress in exports maintained a constant rate until the end of 2014, sustaining therefore the Italian machinery manufacturers in a period where the domestic market showed only faint signs of recovery in the very recent months. Although there was a noticeable increase in purchases from abroad (up to 8 % over the entire year) the tendency for investments by manufacturers was described by the Assocomaplast as rather limited in the final quarter of 2014.

The trade association estimated the production of the Italian plastics market to reach a maximum of EUR 4 billion based on surveys of its members. The trade balance further increased and passed the EUR 2 billion threshold, followed by the domestic market just remaining below that level.

The most recent survey by the association described a generally optimistic outlook among nearly one third of the interviewed companies, who expect a further growth in orders and turnover for the present half-year. Another third expects an increase of export shares.

Within the other EU states a clear increase of Italian machinery sales is noted, while the total trade with non-EU countries has dropped. This is likely due to the negative performance in Russia (-11.9 %), which again is partially the result of the sanctions applied in response to the Ukraine crisis and the collapse of the rouble.

The lacklustre sales trend to Brazil (-11 % with respect to 2013) affected the overall performance in South America, while an upswing in supplies to Chinese converters (also to Vietnamese, Indonesian and Indian, just to mention the most significant) compensated a slow-down to South Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Among the destination markets the USA (+21.5 %) took second place from France (-10.4 %, now in third place), while Germany, in keeping with established tradition, remained in first place by a wide margin (albeit somewhat decreased).

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, in 2013, the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy closed the remained plant of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in the country, thus, giving the green light to sales of "Vinyls Italia's facilities, the only Italian PVC producer.

New foam technology from Huntsman offers cool comfort

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Huntsman has developed Rubiflex Cocoon polyurethane-based foam technology, which can be used to manufacture cool, breathable, flexible foams for bedding, furniture and seating applications, said the producer on its site.

According to Huntsman, the Rubiflex Cocoon foam system is designed to enhance comfort by reducing the build up of heat and humidity in foam mattresses, pillows and seat cushions, caused by the body when it is at rest. Combining the best properties of memory and high-resilience foam solutions, the Rubiflex Cocoon foam system makes it possible to fabricate foams that provide good support and pressure distribution - gently cradling the body and minimising pressure points to promote quality sleep and relaxation, says the company.

With the Rubiflex Cocoon foam system, comfort is further heightened by the system’s humidity management properties. Special hygrothermal properties help dissipate the natural accumulation of heat and humidity generated by the body when it comes into contact with mattresses, pillows, toppers, armchairs, sofas and car seats, says Huntsman.

Offering a good balance of hydrophilic and hydrophobic segments, the polymer structure of the foam system facilitates water vapour permeability and humidity transmission. With an open cell structure, the natural increase in humidity produced by the body is dispersed effectively.

Foams based on Rubiflex Cocoon technology have a dry silky feeling and work well in all climates. They are durable and resilient, retaining their original feel, thickness and shape over time - despite changes in temperature conditions. Rubiflex Cocoon-based foams also have a good wet compression set and good tear strength. Conforming to LGA and CertiPUR standards they meet low VOC requirements. Furthermore, they can be vacuum packed and are suitable for use in adjustable mattresses, says the company.

As MRC wrote before, in October 2014, Huntsman Corporation completed the acquisition of the Performance Additives and Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) businesses of Rockwood Holdings, Inc.

Huntsman Corporation is a publicly traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. The company's operating companies manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging.

BASF unveils its largest construction chemicals production site in India

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF has unveiled its largest construction chemicals plant in India at Nellore (Andhra Pradesh, South-East India), as per the company's press release.

This is BASF’s fifth construction chemicals plant in the country. With its state-of-the-art technology and strategically located close to regional growth centers, the plant will enable BASF to respond in a timely fashion to customers’ needs in the Southern part of India and to support them with high-performance solutions in the highly competitive market.

At the new plant, BASF produces standard and custom-made performance-based concrete admixtures such as MasterGlenium, MasterPolyheed, and MasterRheobuild. In addition, solutions such as MasterTile, MasterSeal, MasterTop, and MasterEmaco series are manufactured, with the potential to expand to higher versions of MasterTile and MasterProtect. The site also houses a multiple-tank storage facility and a well-equipped concrete lab that enables Master Builders Solutions experts to deliver tailor-made recipes through formulation excellence.

"With the new plant at Nellore, BASF offers a comprehensive range of solutions to help construct buildings that can be more energy-efficient, durable, and require fewer resources for maintenance," said Mr. Ralf Spettmann, President, Construction Chemicals, BASF.

Raman Ramachandran, Chairman and Managing Director, BASF India Limited and Head, BASF South Asia added, "India is an important strategic market for BASF and we must be able to respond locally in a timely manner. The Nellore site enables us to stay close to our customers and offer them customized solutions to meet the growing demands for multi-story buildings, long-lasting infrastructure constructions and more energy-efficient construction techniques."

Other construction chemicals production sites in India are located in Turbhe, Navi Mumbai, Nalagarh, and Kolkata.

As MRC informed previously, in April 2015, the new Master Builders Solutions Training Center at BASF's site in Oldenburg, Germany, has been officially opened. The new training center in Oldenburg has been created to train and inform customers and BASF's Master Builders Solutions experts on the professional application and handling of Performance Flooring and Waterproofing products and systems - thus fostering their professionalism, knowledge and experience.

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.