Hanwha Total to invest USD331 MM to boost polyethylene output

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co Ltd said on Monday it plans to spend USD331.29 MM on a new factory in South Korea to increase polyethylene (PE) output by 400 Mtpy by 2019, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The joint venture of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group and French oil and gas company Total SA in a statement said the factory will raise its polyethylene capacity to 1.12 MMtpy when completed by the end of 2019.

The plant will be capable of producing multiple higher-value PE products enabling flexible response to demand, Hanwha Total said.

As MRC reported before, Hanwha Total Petrochemical plans to expand the production capacity of its low density polyethylene (LDPE)/ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) swing plant. Thus, the production capacity of the existing plant will be increase by 40,000 mt/year. Located at Daesan in South Korea, The swing plant has a total capacity of 240,000 mt/years.

Hanwha Group is one of the largest business conglomerate in South Korea. Founded in 1952 as Korea Explosives Inc., the group has grown into a large multi-profile business conglomerate, with diversified holdings stretching from explosives, their original business, to retail to financial services.

Evonik sets up its first Asia research hub in Singapore

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Germany-based specialty chemicals company Evonik is set to build its first research hub in Singapore and is expected to start operations in 2018, as per the company's press release.

Acting as the Asian platform for high impact R&D with a special focus on Functional Surfaces and Additive Manufacturing, the research hub will also serve as a leading hotspot for top local and international talents to develop a strong R&D ecosystem in the region. In its first development stage, the new complex will offer around 50 jobs at the location.

"The research hub in Singapore not only demonstrates our ongoing commitment to expand our R&D footprint in Asia but also reflects the growing significance of Asia in the global innovation landscape," said Dr. Claus Rettig, Chairman of the Board of Management, Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH.

As part of its development blueprint for R&D excellence, the research hub will constitute an agile team of scientists and researchers from domain specialties working in an environment that promotes creativity and collaboration while generating sustainable business growth. "We are also implementing a workplace strategy during the setup of the research hub to drive a dynamic and proactive workplace culture," added Peter Meinshausen, Regional President of Evonik Asia Pacific South. "This enables us to build Evonik’s global talent capital and attract top talents."

The development of the research hub is also supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), which has been the company’s strategic partner in facilitating and growing its presence in Singapore over the past years. “Evonik’s choice of Singapore as the location for this research hub is a statement of confidence in our research capability and availability of skilled talent,” said Dr. Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of EDB. "We look forward to partnering Evonik in this initiative, where one of the topics will be additive manufacturing, that will support Singapore’s efforts in advanced manufacturing as well as further strengthen Singapore’s position in R&D and technologies in Asia and globally."

The research hub will be situated in Biopolis, the centre for entrepreneurial and groundbreaking R&D activities in Singapore. Alongside with other public and private research institutions and organizations, Evonik will be able to leverage on the existing R&D value chain to make the research hub a fertile ground for synergies within and across the scientific research community moving forward.

As MRC wrote before, Evonik Resource Efficiency will invest in a capacity expansion of its performance foams business at its production site in Darmstadt, Germany. The investment will increase the output of the facility by about 20% as a first step. The Group will be adding production equipment to its operations complex that manufactures products marketed under the Rohacell brand. The expanded production capacity was expected to be operational by the second half of 2017.

Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The focus on more specialty businesses, high innovative prowess and an encouraging and trustful corporate culture form the heart of Evonik’s corporate strategy. They are the lever for profitable growth and a sustained increase in the value of the company. Evonik benefits specifically from its customer proximity and leading market positions. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world with more than 36,000 employees. In fiscal 2016, the enterprise generated sales of around EUR12.7 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about EUR2.165 billion.

Unipetrol limits Litvinov refinery operations after fire

MOSCOW (MRC) — Unipetrol limited operations at its Litvinov plant on Tuesday after a morning fire at its partial oxidation (POX) unit, the Czech refiner said, as per Reuters.

Unipetrol said the POX unit would be repaired and put back into operation in the coming weeks. Units producing hydrogen and ammonia have been shut down for the time being, it said.

"The precise impact on Litvinov refinery’s utilization and the estimated financial loss of Unipetrol... is subject to further evaluation and analysis," a spokesman said.

The fire caused damage to the POX unit’s pipeline, cabling and insulation. Unipetrol added the incident posed no danger to health or the environment.

Toyo launches digital fertilizer for Indonesian plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toyo Engineering Corporation (TOYO, President and CEO Kiyoshi Nakao) has developed and launched the first “digital fertilizer” for the fertilizer plant owned and operated by PT Pupuk Sriwidjaja Palembang (PUSRI) in Palembang in South Sumatra, Indonesia as a subsidiary of state-owned Indonesian fertilizer company, PT Pupuk Indonesia, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"Digital fertilizer" is an IoT system that contributes to improving operating rates and plant profitability by continuously monitoring and analyzing plant operations and key performance indicators (KPls) of the plant. TOYO and General Electric Company (GE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a joint project to explore digital solutions for the fertilizer and petrochemicals industry in December 2016. Under the MOU, TOYO and GE jointly developed “digital fertilizer” on GE Predix, which is a cloud-based platform built exclusively for industry by using TOYO’s expertise in processes and plant operations as Licensor of Urea synthesis and granulation technologies and as EPC contractor of fertilizer and petrochemical plants. System integration of "digital fertilizer" on Predix was conducted by NEC Corporation (NEC), which has entered into a comprehensive alliance with GE.

PUSRI’s fertilizer plant was built by TOYO with TOYO’s Urea Synthesis (ACES21), which is known for lower utilities consumption. The implementation of this technology brings PUSRI as environmentally friendly fertilizer plant. TOYO will continue to develop digital solutions that harmonize humans, machines and data for the fertilizer and petrochemicals industry by using Big Data accumulated through "digital fertilizer," and will also aim to implement "digital fertilizer" in TOYO’s more than 100 licensed fertilizer plants around the world.

TOYO will expand the "digital plant" business not only for fertilizer plants but also for petrochemical plants with the aim of contributing to optimal enterprise management of various plants.

DuPont Industrial Biosciences to sell cellulosic ethanol plant in blow to biofuel

MOSCOW (MRC) -- DuPont Industrial Biosciences, a unit of DowDuPont Inc, said it halted operations at a two-year-old ethanol plant and will sell it, dealing another blow to efforts to create biofuels without using food crops, reported Reuters.

The decision to shut the Iowa plant comes as political winds are undercutting efforts to produce ethanol from plant waste and wood shavings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this year has pushed to lower the amount of cellulosic biofuels that need to be blended into the nation’s fuels under a 2007 mandate, arguing the industry has not produced enough.

DuPont spent about USD225 million to build the facility, which used corn stalks and stems to make ethanol, which is blended into gasoline. The plant was designed to produce 30 million gallons a year.

The EPA predicted in 2007 that U.S. cellulosic ethanol production could hit 1 billion gallons by 2020, but output this year is expected to reach only 7 million gallons, according to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a trade group.

High production costs and still-maturing technology have undercut the rationale for cellulosic biofuel, part of the original goal to use biofuels to help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

"Cellulosic biofuel innovators have been dealing with mixed policy signals and tremendous regulatory uncertainty for the past decade," RFA Chief Executive Bob Dinneen said in an interview.

Refiners such as PBF Energy, which must blend biofuels into the nation’s fuel pool or buy credits from those who do, have opposed the mandates.

"This is yet another example of why the nation’s biofuel mandate needs fundamental reform. More than a decade after the cellulosic portion of the mandate was passed, the fuel is still nonexistent," PBF Energy lobbyist Brendan Williams said.

A DuPont Industrial Biosciences spokeswoman said the EPA’s plan to decrease cellulosic biofuel volumes played no role in shutting the plant.

DuPont and rivals POET-DSM and Abengoa SA built large-scale cellulosic ethanol plants to take advantage of the 2007 biofuels mandate. Abengoa sold its 25-million-gallon Kansas facility for USD48.5 million about a year ago.

As MRC informed earlier, in late September 2017, DowDuPont Materials Science, the business division of newly formed DowDupont, commissioned ethylene and polyethylene (PE) units in Freeport, Tex., as part of Dow Chemical Co.'s previously announced USD6-billion US Gulf Coast (USGC) investment program in Texas and Louisiana on projects to utilize low-cost and advantaged US shale gas feedstock. The 1.5 million-tonne/year ethylene plant and 400,000-tpy PE plant - which is based on Dow’s proprietary Solution process technology for production of the company’s ELITE brand enhanced PE resins - were both in operation as of Sept. 21.