Genomatica and Braskem produce single step butadiene through biological process

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A group of scientists at Genomatica and Braskem have announced that they have produced butadiene through a direct, bio-based process in a lab, said Chemicals-technology.

The companies have been producing butadiene in lab scale since June 2015 at Genomatica's innovation centre in San Diego and Campinas. In 2013, both Genomatica and Braskem joined to develop a commercial process for on-purpose production of butadiene from renewable feedstocks.

During the course of their programme, the team at Genomatica and Braskem has successfully developed a microorganism that consumes sugar and converts it to butadiene at lab scale, in two-litre fermenters. Genomatica has been able to recognise 60 possible biological pathways with which a microorganism can make butadiene, theoretically.

"Our joint team has made good use of Genomatica's integrated bioengineering platform to quickly hit a key milestone." The programme further helps to boost intellectual knowledge of Braskem and Genomatica.

Genomatica R&D senior vice-president Nelson Barton said: "Our joint team has made good use of Genomatica's integrated bioengineering platform, including its computational techniques and high-throughput cloning and screening, to quickly hit a key milestone.

"Our 'rational' approach to strain design should enable faster, more predictable scale-up and better economics as we advance the programme."

Butadiene is a used in the production of rubber for tires, electrical appliances, footwear, plastics, asphalt, building materials, and latex and a renewable butadiene expects to lower carbon footprint in the industrial output.

In July, Genomatica partnered with American company Cargill to develop renewable chemicals for industrial applications.

With the partnership, both the companies are expected to produce a cost-effective source of carbohydrate feedstocks, as well as co-location support services to chemical producers, distributors and users.

As MRC informed earlier, Braskem plans to build a new polyethylene (PE) plant at its existing complex in La Porte, Texas.

Braskem is Brazilian main producer of polyethylene and polypropylene. In addition with ongoing plants located in both petrochemical complexes, in April 2008 Braskem opened a 300,000 metric ton polypropylene plant in the city of Paulinia (Sao Paulo).

Lanxess opened first production line for tire curing bladders in Asia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Lanxess Rhein Chemie Additives business unit has opened a production line for Rhenoshape tire curing bladders at its Chinese production site in Qingdao, said the producer on its site.

By the investment of a low single-digit million euro amount Lanxess will expand its global production capacity for these high-performance products in a first step by around 10%.

Rhein Chemie Additives is the only global player offering tire manufacturers bladders, release agents and tire marking inks from a single source. With its fourth bladder plant, the company is further strengthening its global production network. "It is our first Rhenoshape production line in Asia and opens up significant growth potential for us. Our customers place high value on their ability to source Rhenoshape bladders locally,” said Philipp Junge, head of Rubber Additives business at Rhein Chemie Additives. China is the world’s largest producer of tires. “We serve international tire manufacturers who produce their innovative tires in China and other Asian countries, such as Japan, Thailand and Malaysia," Junge said.

The new production line is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to manufacture curing bladders for lightweight commercial vehicle tires and passenger car tires. It leverages the latest findings in bladder technology and provides customers with bladders from compression and injection presses.

Rhein Chemie Additives supplies the tire industry with a broad range of pre-dispersed polymer-bound additives, processing promoters, vulcanization and filler activators, anti-sun check waxes, release agents, tire marking inks and high-performance tire curing bladders.

As MRC informed previously, in July 2013, Lanxess opened its first production facility in Russia. In the new plant at the Lipetsk site, Lanxess subsidiary Rhein Chemie manufactures polymer-bound rubber additives for the markets in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), primarily for the automotive and tire industries. A production facility for the bladders used in tire production is to be added in 2016. The overall investment volume in euros amounts to a seven-digit figure and 40 new jobs will be created at the new plant in the medium term.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,600 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.

Russia downplays threat of Saudi crude sales to Eastern Europe’s refiners

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russian officials said Saudi Arabia won't be able to maintain the discounted crude prices offered to refiners in Eastern Europe as the nation toned down its criticism of oil shipments from the biggest OPEC producer, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Saudi Arabia has priced its oil at a six-year low for Europe after starting to ship crude to traditional Russian markets, such as Poland.

The discounted crude "is a temporary situation and it won't work for a long period," Nikolay Tokarev, CEO of Russia’s state-run oil pipeline operator, Transneft, said in an interview on Friday.

Oil executives in Russia, which ships almost 70% of its crude to Europe, last month criticized Saudi Arabia’s strategy even before it dropped its December price for the northwest of the continent to lowest since February 2009. Still, while the Russian central bank warned last week that increased competition from the Middle East may create economic risks, Energy Minister Alexander Novak was more sanguine on Friday.

"If more or less one oil cargo is added or drops off, there’s no need to turn it into a sensation," Novak told reporters in Moscow.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, in March 2015, US oil and gas major ExxonMobil asked the Russian government to reimburse taxes worth "several billion roubles" it says it overpaid on a project in the far east of Russia.

Global thermoplastic polyurethane films market to be valued at USD724.6 mln by 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The global Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Films Market size is likely to be valued at USD724.6 mln by 2020; as per Plastemart with reference to a report of Radiant Insights, Inc.

Increase in lightweight plastics demand in order to achieve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce carbon footprints is likely to drive market. Favorable regulations regarding automobile norms benefiting consumers is anticipated to drive high performance thermoplastics such as TPU. Increase in infrastructure spending in countries such as China, India and Indonesia is anticipated to drive the market. Fluctuating raw material prices of propylene and aniline are anticipated to directly influence polyols & MDI, which can affect overall industry growth. Increasing investments by companies such as Arkema, Polyone, DuPont and Merquinsa for developing bio based TPU films are likely to offer opportunities for industry growth.

Automotive applications dominated the overall consumption and accounted for over 24% of the total volume in 2013. TPU films are used in automotive applications such as scratch protection, paint protection, rear bumper protection and anti-chipping. Aerospace application is likely to be the fastest growing with an estimated CAGR of 6.6% up to 2020.

Global TPU films market size was estimated 46.7 kilo tons in 2013 and may register 68.03 kilo tons by 2020 growing with an estimated CAGR of 5.5% from 2014 to 2020.

Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) dominated the regional market and accounted for 34.9% of the total demand in 2013. Presence of automobile manufactures in Indonesia, China, Thailand and India coupled with growing construction spending is likely to drive regional demand.

Japanese TPU films market was estimated at over USD 38 million in 2014 and is anticipated to witness gains at 6.9% from 2014 to 2020 in terms of revenue.

North American market was estimated at over 12.5 kilo tons in 2013 with a CAGR of 4.4% from 2014 to 2020. Automobile applications dominated the regional market and accounted for 24.6% of the total share in 2013.

The global TPU films market is fragment with four manufacturers comprising of 40% of the market share in 2013. Major companies include Bayer Material Science, 3M, Permali Gloucester and Huntsman. Other prominent companies include PAR group, American Polyfilm, Avery Dennison, Lubrizol and Nippon.

We remind that, as MRC reported earlier, the global polyurethane foam market was valued at USD 46.8 billion in 2014, which is expected to reach USD 72.2 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 7.5 % during the forecast period from 2015 to 2020, according to a new research report of Markets and Markets on the global polyurethane foam market.

Westlake Chemical announces addition to existing share repurchase program

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Board of Directors of Westlake Chemical Corporation on November 20, 2015 authorized the company to repurchase an additional USD150 million in shares of its common stock under its existing share repurchase program, said the company in its press release.

This program is effective immediately. Repurchases under this program will be made through the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. These repurchases may begin or be suspended from time to time without prior notice.

As MRC informed earlier, Technip has been awarded a contract by Westlake Chemical to provide detailed engineering and procurement services to expand the recovery section of Westlake’s Petro 1 ethylene plant at its complex in Sulphur, Louisiana.

Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, caustic, VCM, PVC suspension and specialty resins and PVC building products including pipe and specialty components, windows, fence, deck and film.