Euro Chlor launches strategy for chlor-alkali industry sustainable future in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Euro Chlor (Brussels, Belgium), the European association of chlor-alkali manufacturers, has released its latest strategy for the sustainability of the chlor-alkali industry to 2050, said Chemweek.

The strategy, released at the association’s annual general assembly on Friday, “defines what the sector aims to look like by 2050, as well as the direction planned to ensure that this safe, competitive, and green European chlor-alkali industry will be here for the benefit of Europe in 2050,” it says. The work on the strategy began in the run up to Euro Chlor’s third 10-year Sustainability Program covering 2021-2030, and builds on Cefic’s own mid-century vision, released last year. Euro Chlor is a sector group within Cefic, the European chemical industry association. The 2050 strategy also addresses some future needs of European society in the context of the EU’s Green Deal, it says.

Euro Chlor aims to keep safety as its main priority, as well as stepping up its focus on safe transportation of its members’ products. It also “plans to contribute to Europe’s climate-neutral ambitions by further focusing on its drive for energy efficiency, and more closely investigating its carbon footprint,” it says. This includes determining the chlor-alkali industry’s role in a more electrified, greener future, and “striving for 100% hydrogen utilization,” which will help to keep the industry competitive, it says. It will also “better close the loop in its own production processes, and work together with downstream users to increase circularity in the downstream chlorine value chain,” it adds.

The launch of the mid-century strategy, originally planned for earlier this year, was postponed until the AGM due to COVID-19, says the association. Euro Chlor’s annual technology conference is planned to be held on 4-6 May 2021, where an update on the strategy’s progress will be given, it says. Euro Chlor has 38 producing members operating 60 manufacturing locations in 19 countries in Europe, representing 97% of all European production capacity.

Europe’s chlor-alkali industry completed the phase-out of mercury-cell technology at Europe’s chlorine plants in 2018, with an ongoing program to dispose safely of the liquid mercury via conversion into mercury sulfide and safe storage in salt mines by the end of 2022. At the end of 2018, Euro Chlor members reported 2,947 metric tons of liquid mercury on site, with 1,146 metric tons being converted in 2018. This means we are on target to meet the 2022 deadline,” Baune noted.

As MRC informed earlier, Russia's output of chemical products rose in June 2020 by 2.6% year on year. However, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 4.9% in the first six months of 2020. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the output in January-June. Production of benzene was 106,000 tonnes in June 2020, compared to 110,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of this product reached 721,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 3.9% year on year.

KBR and Johnson Matthey sign agreement to license technology

MOSCOW (MRC) -- KBR and Johnson Matthey (JM), announced that they have signed an alliance agreement to license a groundbreaking ammonia-methanol co-production process that combines their market-leading ammonia and methanol technologies, said the company.

The co-production process is based on well-proven technologies utilizing KBR's proprietary PURIFIER™ ammonia process and JM's methanol process. Both KBR's ammonia technology and JM's methanol technology showcase a long history, deep experience, continuous improvements and leading-edge performance. Since the 1960s, KBR has licensed, engineered or constructed more than 244 ammonia plants worldwide. JM has supplied the methanol industry with leading technology and catalysts for over 45 years and has licensed over 100 grassroots methanol plants during this period.

As MRC informed earlier, Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group Co. (Baofeng Energy) has selected KBR's proprietary cracker technology for its new methanol-to-olefins (MTO) project to be built in Ningxia, China. Under the contracts, KBR will provide process technology licensing and process design packages for Baofeng Energy's 500,000-t/y coal-to-olefins facility and its 500,000-t/y C2-C5 comprehensive utilization project.

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.

KBR is a global provider of differentiated professional services and solutions across the asset and program life cycle within the government services and technology sectors. KBR employs approximately 28,000 people worldwide with customers in more than 80 countries and operations in 40 countries. KBR is proud to work with its customers across the globe to provide technology, value-added services, and long- term operations and maintenance services to ensure consistent delivery with predictable results. At KBR, We Deliver.

Johnson Matthey is a global leader in science that enables a cleaner and healthier world. With over 200 years of sustained commitment to innovation and technological breakthroughs, we improve the performance, function and safety of our customers' products and in 2020 we received the London Stock Exchange's Green Economy Mark, given to companies that derive more than 50% of revenues from environmental solutions. Our science has a global impact in areas such as low emission transport, pharmaceuticals, chemical processing and making the most efficient use of the planet's natural resources.

Dow to sell trio of US Gulf Coast tank terminals to Vopak JV for USD620 million

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow has agreed to sell three of its chemical storage terminals on the US Gulf Coast for USD620 million to a joint venture (JV) between Vopak (Rotterdam, Netherlands) and investment firm BlackRock (New York, New York), said Chemweek.

The transaction includes marine and storage terminal operations and assets at Dow’s sites at Plaquemine and St. Charles, Louisiana; and Freeport, Texas, Dow says. The cash proceeds will be used for “value-enhancing opportunities consistent with Dow’s capital-allocation priorities” and demonstrates the company’s “continued evaluation of non-revenue-generating assets across its global portfolio,” it says.

The sale to the newly established Vopak Industrial Infrastructure Americas (VIIA) JV, owned equally by Vopak and BlackRock’s worldwide energy and power infrastructure fund, is expected to close before the end of this year, subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions in the US and EU.

Dow and VIIA will enter into long-term service agreements for storage and infrastructure services at the terminals. “Dow expects Vopak’s terminal expertise and capabilities will deliver additional operational efficiencies and opportunities for growth,” says Vopak. The long-term agreements will ensure “reliable and cost-advantaged services for existing Dow businesses at the in-scope sites,” according to Dow. Normal operations will continue throughout the divestment process, it says. All three terminals are situated alongside active Dow production complexes. VIIA and Dow “are working closely to ensure a seamless transition,” Vopak states.

The total storage capacity of the terminals is 852,000 cubic meters. Dow’s terminal at St. Charles is the largest with 73 chemical storage tanks with a combined capacity of 409,000 cu meters, with its terminal at Plaquemine incorporating 30 tanks with 303,000 cu meters of storage capacity for chemicals and refined products in total, Vopak says. The terminal at Freeport has 53 tanks with a total chemicals storage capacity of 140,000 cu meters, it says. The three assets also include 16.4 hectares of expansion land, 36 vessel berths, multiple pipeline connections, and rail and truck racks, Vopak adds.

The announcement demonstrates Dow’s “ongoing commitment to applying a best-owner mindset, supported by rigorous benchmarking, and a focus on disciplined capital allocation,” says Dow CEO Jim Fitterling. “The transaction will enable Dow to deploy cash towards value-enhancing opportunities in our core businesses consistent with our capital-allocation priorities including ensuring safe and reliable operations and paying down additional debt,” he says. In July, Dow announced the USD310-million sale of its rail infrastructure and assets at six sites in North America to Watco Companies (Pittsburg, Kansas). That deal is also expected to close during the fourth quarter.

Vopak already provides logistics partner services at several Dow locations worldwide. Vopak is “dedicated to contributing to the long-term success of Dow’s US Gulf Coast business,” says Vopak CEO Eelco Hoekstra. Describing the acquisition as a “unique expansion opportunity,” Hoekstra says the deal “fits perfectly into Vopak’s growth strategy for industrial terminals." Goldman Sachs acted as financial advisor to Dow, with Mayer Brown providing legal support.

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.

MOL partners with Meraxis for recycled plastic compounds

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MOL (Budapest, Hungary) says it has agreed to partner with polymer distributor Meraxis (Bern, Switzerland) for the development and production of recycled polyolefin compounds, said Chemweek.

The companies have signed a letter of intent to cooperate on the development of a new product portfolio, with Meraxis to supply MOL with post-consumer recyclate to be blended with MOL’s virgin polyolefin resins. MOL says the new products will be produced by its Aurora Kunststoffe (Neuenstein, Germany) subsidiary, with both companies to partner on distribution.

"We aim to use the combined expertise of the two companies to meet the increasing demand for high-quality plastic recyclates in the automotive, construction, and packaging industries,” says Meraxis CEO Stefan Girschik. “The potential offered by recyclates in the manufacture of high-quality plastic products is still far from exhausted. Strategic cooperations like this one, however, allow us to take a key step towards optimized recycling management," he says.

With regulations and customer preferences continuously changing, MOL has “identified the importance of using recycled material, no matter the industry,” says Gabriel Szabo, MOL’s executive vice president/downstream. The partnership will allow it to quickly develop recyclate recompounds that meet customer requirements and complement its virgin compounding development, he says.

MOL acquired recycled plastics compounder Aurora in November last year and says it is continuing with its transition from its traditional fuel-based downstream business model to a higher value-added petrochemical product portfolio.

SK Innovation and Hyundai Motor collaborate on EV battery ecosystem

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hyundai Motor Group and SK Innovation Co. have agreed to cooperate in the development of a sustainable ecosystem for electric vehicle (EV) batteries that are key to the future mobility industry, said Chemweek.

The two parties announced today their plan to cooperate in diverse business areas related to the EV battery industry, including battery sales solutions, battery management service and battery reuse and recycling.
The collaboration stems from the companies’ shared need to create a battery value chain and strengthen eco-friendliness in business operations covering the entire lifecycle of EV batteries.

Unlike existing cooperation schemes between mobility companies and battery companies that tended to center on battery supply, the Hyundai-SK cooperation aims for a virtuous cycle of battery usage known as the Battery as a Service (BaaS), which includes lease or rental service. As a result, the cooperation is expected to catalyse the spread of diverse cooperation systems between mobility and battery companies.

Through this partnership, the two parties aim to strengthen the stability of the battery supply chain and create a virtuous cycle of resources from recycling to production; reduce carbon emissions; encourage optimal design that connects EVs and battery reuse, and create synergies by maximizing added value through the optimal design of batteries.

To enable cooperation, both sides are focusing on the initial process of collecting and verifying the battery pack of Kia Motors’ Niro EV model.

In particular, the two companies will seek solutions that can maximize value and eco-friendliness of EV batteries, including reuse of batteries that are no longer useable in vehicles in diverse applications such as the Energy Storage Systems (ESS); and battery recycling that extracts economically valuable metals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt.

These innovations are expected to enhance the value and competitiveness of the battery recycling industry, which will buttress the future EV era. Furthermore, Hyundai Motor Group and SK Innovation plan to synergize their respective affiliates’ business infrastructures and capabilities spanning diverse industries, thereby strengthening their battery competitiveness and expanding the growth of related sectors.

"Hyundai Motor Group’s cooperation with SK Innovation, a first-tier battery supplier for our Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) that will be introduced in 2021, marks a critical first step in maximizing synergies between mobility and battery companies,” said Youngcho Chi, President and Chief Innovation Officer of Hyundai Motor Group. “We expect our cooperation to play an immensely positive role in strengthening Hyundai-Kia’s competitiveness in clean mobility as well as expanding the supply of eco-friendly EVs."

"This collaboration between Hyundai Motor Group, which is leading the popularization of EVs in the global market, and SK Innovation, which possesses the advanced technology in battery development and recycling, is highly meaningful in that the two have joined forces to collaborate across the entire EV cycle,” said Dongseob Jee, President of SK Innovation’s Battery Business. “Both companies will create a seamless collaboration system to explore new business opportunities across the whole battery value chain."

Apart from collaborating with SK Innovation, Hyundai Motor Group is striving to secure and open up new markets by collaborating with global players specializing in EV battery reuse, including Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Wartsila, OCI, and Hanwha Solutions. The Group, via the collaboration with SK Innovation Co., plans to fundamentally reinforce its technological competitiveness by securing technology and infrastructure, and expand its business areas.

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.