Ascend expands into nonwoven face masks market

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ascend Performance Materials has made their new mask technology available to the public for purchase, said Chemweek.

In July, first reported that Ascend developed a new mask technology that protect against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, and the material to make it is manufactured at the company’s North Escambia facility on Old Chemstrand Road.

The Acteev Protect Nonwoven Mask is a reusable general purpose mask that features powerful built-in antimicrobial technology to protect the mask from odor-causing bacteria and mold fungi in a soft, breathable, comfortable fabric that is gentle on the skin.

The mask is the first in a series of planned Acteev product introductions that will include a knit fabric mask and a sports gaiter. The company also announced it is designing an N95 respirator and a line of surgical masks and is developing more engineering plastics solutions for high-touch surfaces such as light switches and tray tables; textiles for use in scrubs and hospital gowns; and nonwoven fibers and rolled goods for use in applications such as filtration systems.

The expansion into masks is a natural extension for Ascend, which is the largest producer of nylon 6,6 resin in the world, said Lu Zhang, Ph.D., who joined Ascend earlier this year as vice president and leader of the Acteev business. “The nylon Ascend makes is durable enough to be used under the hood of a car, but when it’s spun into fibers, it can be woven or knitted into fabrics that are soft and silky,” she said. “Combined with our antimicrobial Acteev technology, our fabric makes an Acteev Protect Nonwoven Mask more breathable, more comfortable and more wearable than anything else we’ve encountered in the market."

The Acteev Protect Nonwoven Mask is an ideal choice for anyone seeking better protection, comfort and breathability than a typical blue mask and better availability than an N95 respirator, which are reserved for health care workers, Zhang said.

"Masks only inhibit the spread if they’re worn – that’s why comfort and breathability are so important,” Zhang said. “As we send our kids back to school, return to the workplace, resume shopping and otherwise get back to normal life, we need an option that is long-lasting and wearable for hours. "They’re great for teachers, restaurant staff, transportation workers, industrial personnel and anyone whose lifestyle takes them out of their homes and into the world," Zhang said.

Recent testing on the knit fabric completed at the University of Cambridge has demonstrated that Acteev technology deactivates the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, with 99.9% efficacy on contact1. Ascend is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other governmental agencies to obtain the appropriate regulatory clearances to make specific claims regarding the technology’s antiviral properties.

Acteev Protect Nonwoven Masks are made with Acteev™ technology with active zinc ions in a polymer matrix to destroy microbes. “Acteev’s active layer of defense uses safe, environmentally friendly active zinc ions embedded into the matrix of the polymer – not a chemical spray that will wash away or flake off – meaning these masks can be used again and again,” said Phil McDivitt, CEO of Ascend.

The Acteev Protect Nonwoven Masks are constructed with three layers of zinc-embedded materials.

“Our scientists and engineers invented a process for creating a revolutionary new fabric that checks all the boxes,” McDivitt said. “Acteev™ fabric is soft to the touch and moisture-wicking to keep the face cool, and it’s more breathable than other materials used in masks."

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russian plants" total PP production grew to 158,800 tonnes in July, compared to 149,400 tonnes a month earlier; ZapSibNeftekhim, Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Poliom increased their capacity utilisation. Russia"s overall PP production reached 1,063,700 tonnes in January-July 2020, compared to 854,500 tonnes a year earlier. Five out of eight producers raised their capacity utilisation, with a new producer - ZapSibNeftekhim - accounting for the main increase in the output.

Oil refiner plans to be climate neutral by 2050

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Poland's top oil refiner PKN Orlen said it plans to invest 25 billion zlotys (USD6.6 billion) in green energy projects that will help it become climate neutral by 2050, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

State-run PKN's plans, which follow low-emission strategies from Europe's energy giants, are out of line with the wider approach by Poland, which has been the only European Union state to refuse to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050. Top oil and gas firms in Europe have committed to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets which vary in scope and detail, making them hard for investors to compare.

BP, Shell, Total, Eni, and Equinor are all focusing cuts on oil and gas activities, while boosting investments in renewables and low carbon businesses, Reuters calculations show. "The global energy transformation that is taking place before our eyes is a huge development opportunity for Central Europe. As the largest company in the region, we want to increase our involvement in this process and we are well positioned to do it," PKN Chief Executive Daniel Obajtek said.

PKN said in a statement that it plans to reduce carbon emissions from its refinery and petrochemical assets by 20% and by 33% in its power generation over the next ten years, adding it will provide more details in its strategy update which is expected in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this year, PKN took over state-run utility Energa and replaced coal with gas as the proposed fuel for Energa's planned power plant in Ostroleka, northeast Poland. Energa is a minority shareholder in PGG, Poland's biggest coal producer which faces restructuring due to falling demand for coal and rising production costs. PKN Orlen did not refer to PGG in its statement.

As MRC informed earlier, in H1 September 2019, Honeywell announced that PKN ORLEN had licensed the UOP MaxEne process, which can increase production of ethylene and aromatics and improve the flexibility of gasoline production. The project, for the PKN Orlen facility in Plock, Poland, currently is in the basic engineering stage. Honeywell UOP, a leading provider of technologies for the oil and gas industry, first commercialized the UOP MaxEne process in 2013. The process enables refiners and petrochemical producers to direct molecules within the naphtha feed to the processes that deliver the greatest value and improve yields of fuels and petrochemicals.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

PKN Orlen would be the first refining and petrochemicals company in Europe to use the Honeywell UOP MaxEne technology for molecule management of a naphtha stream to produce high-quality products including olefins, aromatics and gasoline.

Loop, Suez link up for proposed PET recycling plant in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Loop Industries (Montreal, Canada) and Suez (Paris, France) say they have formed a partnership with the aim of building a facility in Europe dedicated to the recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), according to Chemweek.

Site selection and engineering are targeted for completion by mid-2021, with commissioning of the facility projected for 2023, they say. No potential investment figure has been released.

The partnership will combine Suez’s resource management expertise and Loop’s patented low-energy technology for the production of 100% recycled plastics to help meet demand from global brands for recycled content for packaging, according to the companies in a joint statement. The facility “will respond to huge growth in demand in Europe from global beverage and consumer goods brand companies, committed to aggressive targets for a high level of recycled content in their products,” they say. The facility will have the potential to produce the equivalent of approximately 4.2 billion food-grade beverage bottles per year made of 100% recycled PET plastics, they say.

In 2019 Suez processed 450,000 metric tons of plastics in Europe, producing 150,000 metric tons of recycled plastics, Suez says. The company has been involved in mechanical plastics recycling for over 10 years, it says. Suez is “highly convinced by the complementarity between mechanical and chemical recycling solutions,” says Jean-Marc Boursier, the company’s COO.

Loop says that utilizing its technology at the proposed facility would enable savings of 180,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, compared with producing virgin PET via a traditional petrochemical process. “Europe is leading the charge against petroleum-based plastics: through tougher regulations and taxes, they are setting a global example on transitioning to a more circular economy,” says Loop’s CEO Daniel Solomita.

Europe consumes approximately 5.5 million metric tons/year of PET, with less than 7% making its way back into bottles, the companies say. The proposed facility would bring an end-of-life solution to plastic waste not currently being recycled and directly increase recycling rates in the country where it is built.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PET consumption totalled 367,720 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, up by 19% year on year. Russian companies processed 62,910 tonnes in June.

Celanese raises September VAM prices in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global specialty materials company, has increased September list and off-list selling prices for Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) sold in China, as per the company's press release.

The price increase is effective for orders shipped on or after 2 September, 2020, or as contracts otherwise allow, and is incremental to any previously announced increases.

Thus, September VAM prices rose for the Chinese region by RMB700/mt.

As MRC reported earlier, the company last raised its VAM prices for China on 8 July, 2020, by RMB300/mt.

According to MRC's DataScope report, June EVA imports to Russia fell by 22,5% year on year to 2,940 tonnes from 3,800 tonnes a year earlier, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation dropped in January-June 2020 by 8,16% year on year to 17,440 tonnes (18,980 tonnes a year earlier).

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 7,700 employees worldwide and had 2019 net sales of USD6.3 billion.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 10.09.2020

1. Viva Energy warns it may shut refinery on demand plunge

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Australia’s Viva Energy Group announced it may be able to resume full output at its Victorian refinery if coronavirus lockdown curbs are eased, but warned a full shutdown is still in the cards given the dire long-term outlook for the industry, said Hydrocarbonprocessing. A virus-driven demand slump has battered Australia’s oil refiners and sparked threats of closures, prompting the government to launch talks with the industry on how to shore up the sector. Viva, which has already reduced production at its Geelong refinery, said if COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed as foreshadowed and fuel demand recovers, the refinery could return to full production in November 2020.