SCS demonstrate that mechanically recycled PS is suitable for food contact

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS), a value chain initiative to increase the circularity of styrenics, announced that it has successfully demonstrated that polystyrene (PS) is mechanically recyclable to food contact standards, reported GV.

In cooperation with the Fraunhofer-Institute fur Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung IVV, SCS performed so-called challenge tests, which confirmed the high cleaning efficiency of the mechanical recycling technology for polystyrene to remove impurities originating from waste streams. These results enable the first application for an opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the use of recycled polystyrene (r-PS) as food contact material.

With the aim to consistently achieve the very high purity levels of the polystyrene recyclate needed for food contact materials, the ‘supercleaning’ technology of machine manufacturer Gneuss was used during the mechanical recycling process. Its ability to handle post-consumer polystyrene waste from food contact packaging was ‘stress tested’ and challenged by adding impurities under worst-case assumptions. The challenge test revealed the very good cleaning efficiency of the technology used, leading to excellent purity levels of the r-PS. This result is supported by the intrinsic properties of polystyrene being a low diffusion polymer, which prevents that any waste impurities enter into or migrate through the polymer matrix.

The resulting quality of the r-PS provides producers of packaging for the food industry with utmost flexibility, as it can be used in their existing industrial production processes such as extrusion and thermoforming. Members of SCS delivered the proof of concept that mechanically recycled polystyrene can serve as a drop-in solution in form, fill and seal (FFS) production lines. Multiple variants for packaging are possible: single layer, co-extrusion of the r-PS with virgin polystyrene or use of the recyclate as middle layer between virgin polystyrene (A-B-A).

Frank Eisentraeger, Product Director PS EMEA, Ineos Styrolution and member of the SCS working group Waste Feedstock said: “The challenge test indicates that polystyrene is one of the best recyclable materials, including for food contact applications. The test results are of crucial importance as they give brand owners and packaging producers full confidence that the applied mechanical recycling technology delivers the required high purity levels for their business. Most importantly, the qualities of the polystyrene molecule remain stable and do not degrade in multiple mechanical recycling. We can recycle polystyrene over and over again.”

Jens Kathmann, Secretary General SCS, said: “This is a huge milestone in styrenics' contribution to the circular economy. Recycled polystyrene of food grade quality combines all the well-known application, processing and environmental advantages of polystyrene, with the added value of being a fully circular polymer. This is a great attraction and value for the market. We are delighted to take the next step by filing our application with EFSA for food contact acceptance."

As MRC wrote earlier, Trinseo says feedstock supply issues that threatened the operation of its 300,000-metric tons/year styrene monomer (SM) plant in Boehlen, Germany, have been resolved, and the company is no longer “evaluating strategic options” for the asset.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics totalled 362,820 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, down by 1% year on year. September total estimated PS consumption in Russia was 48,690 tonnes, up by 13% year on year.

Ineos to buy Sasol stake in Gemini HDPE project for USD404 million

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos has agreed principle terms with Sasol (Johannesburg) for the USD404-million acquisition of the South African company’s 50% ownership stake in their Gemini high-density polyethylene (HDPE) manufacturing joint venture at La Porte, Texas, according to Chemweek.

The target closing date for the acquisition is 31 December, the companies say.

Ineos Olefins and Polymers (O&P) USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ineos, will become the sole owner of the 470,000-metric tons/year HDPE unit. The company has been the operator of the Gemini plant located within Ineos’ Battleground manufacturing complex since its startup in 2017. The proposed purchase from Sasol subsidiary Sasol Chemicals North America will allow it to “further expand its reach” in the rapidly growing specialty PE markets for pressure pipe and high molecular weight film, it says. It will also “increase Ineos Group’s global HDPE market share and strengthen its ability to service the rapidly growing bimodal markets,” it adds. The transaction is subject to financing and other customary adjustments.

“We are excited about the opportunity to acquire Sasol’s half of Gemini. This world-class asset is positioned to serve the growing global bimodal markets and would allow our business to meet increased demand from our customers,” says Ineos O&O CEO Michael Nagle. Ineos has four other production plants with 767,000 metric tons/year of total HDPE capacity at Deer Park, Texas.

Sasol president and CEO Fleetwood Grobler says the divestment “continues the transformation of Sasol’s chemicals business toward specialty chemicals markets.” Proceeds from the transaction will be used to repay near-term debt obligations, the company says. The value of the net assets relevant to the sale was USD176 million as at 30 June 2020, which is net of debt facilities, as disclosed in Sasol’s financial statements, it says. The loss attributable to the net assets was USD18 million for the financial year ended 30 June, with the proposed sale to only be effective upon restructuring of the existing debt facilities, it adds.

In October, 2020, as MRC reported before, Sasol agreed to form an equal JV with LyondellBasell, with LyondellBasell to pay USD2 billion to acquire 50% of Sasol’s new 1.5-million metric tons/year steam cracker, and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) plants at Lake Charles, Louisiana. That transaction is also expected to close by the end of the year.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, September estimated HDPE consumption in Russia fell to 55,790 tonnes from 119,750 tonnes a month earlier. ZapSibNeftekhim increased its export polyethylene (PE) sales. Kazanorgsintez's production capacities were also shut for a turnaround. Overall HDPE shipments to the Russian market totalled 911,650 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 6% year on year. Production grew significantly, whereas imports slumped by 27%.

Sasol is an international integrated chemicals and energy company that leverages technologies and the expertise of our 31 270 people working in 32 countries. The company develops and commercialises technologies, and builds and operates world-scale facilities to produce a range of high-value product stream, including liquid fuels, petrochemicals and low-carbon electricity.

INEOS Group Limited is a privately owned multinational chemicals company consisting of 15 standalone business units, headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland and with its registered office in Lyndhurst, United Kingdom. It is the fourth largest chemicals company in the world measured by revenues (after BASF, Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell) and the largest privately owned company in the United Kingdom.

Hengli Intelligent Plant selects Aspen Technology software to accelerate digitalization

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Aspen Technology, Inc., a global leader in asset optimization software, has announced that Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) Refinery (Hengli), a leading Fortune Global 500 refinery in China, has chosen Aspen DMC3TM software to accelerate digitalization at its integrated refining and chemical plant in Dalian, China, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

With this deployment, Hengli can achieve operational speed and sustainability via patented adaptive process control technology in pursuit of its intelligent plant strategy.

Ricky Li Xianyou, vice president, Hengli, said: "To strengthen the company’s industry leadership, Hengli has selected Aspen DMC3 software as part of the company’s holistic approach to future proof its intelligent plant concept. Factoring in solid ROI projections, this partnership with AspenTech will enable Hengli to maximize the company’s performance across the asset lifecycle and achieve operational excellence via asset optimization."

Jack Ding, Country manager, China, Aspen Technology, added: "With a focus on a strong customer relationship, we are pleased to partner Hengli in the company’s journey to accelerate digital transformation. Prior to the deployment of Aspen DMC3 software, Hengli was already ahead of the innovation curve by capitalizing on a suite of aspenONE solutions that can maximize productivity across the asset lifecycle."

Aspen DMC3 accelerates optimal deployments in simultaneous process optimization and testing. This enables the plant to adopt a scalable and sustainable approach via patented adaptive process control technology. Process manufacturers can achieve real-time agility and maximize performance in a seamless yet robust manner.

As MRC reported previiously, in early November 2020, Invista and Hengli Petrochemical (Huizhou) reached agreement to license INVISTA’s P8 PTA technology for two purified terephthalic acid (PTA) lines. These two lines will be installed at Xiachong, Daya Bay, Huizhou City, Guangdong province, China. The kick-off meeting was successfully concluded on October 23, 2020, between Hengli, Invista and CTCI (the engineering contractor).

PTA is used to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used in the manufacturing of plastic bottles, films, packaging containers, in the textile and food industries.

As per MRC' ScanPlast, calculated consumption of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) reached 52,71o tonnes in September 2020, down 27% compared to the same time a year before. Total consumption of PET in Russia in the nine months of 2020 reached 530,750 tonnes, down 22% than the same indicator last year.

TUV SUD builds first mobile testing facility for hydrogen refueling stations

MOSCOW (MRC) -- TUV SUD National Engineering Laboratory has secured Government funding to build the UK’s first mobile primary standard facility for testing hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) to ensure they deliver the correct amount of fuel, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), through the National Measurement System mechanism, the mobile facility will ensure accurate and consistent measurement of the dispensed quantity of fuel at HRS. This will assure drivers of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that financial transactions are correct and ensure accurate fiscal measurements for future taxation purposes.

Dr Martin Hanton, technical director at TUV SUD National Engineering Laboratory, said: "The design of petrol and diesel refueling stations is highly standardized and if hydrogen FCEVs are to become a viable transport choice, then establishing a standardized refueling infrastructure is crucial. Ensuring the consumer gets what they pay for at the refueling station necessitates accuracy at the nozzle, not the meter. We must therefore bring the calibration facility to the refueling station and that is precisely what we will do with our new mobile primary standard," concluded Hanton.

The international accuracy requirements for HRS fuel dispensers are mandated as ±2% for new installations. However, current ranges can be anywhere between ±1 – 10%. Furthermore, if a consumer disputes the dispensed volume, Trading Standards cannot investigate at present as the UK currently has no traceability chain that is linked to a physical primary standard for hydrogen, or the equipment and skills to test fuel dispensers. TUV SUD National Engineering Laboratory’s new mobile facility will provide this measurement traceability for the UK and the only practical, traceable capability to test hydrogen refueling stations for dispensed quantity at the nozzle in the country.

Marc MacDonald, head of Clean Fuels at TUV SUD National Engineering Laboratory, said: “From our involvement in EU projects such as MetroHyVe, it is clear that the dispensed quantity performance of HRS can be variable, in part due to inconsistency in design. We have seen that compliance with the prevailing regulation (OIML R-139) is possible, but not always achieved, especially if less than a full tank fill is delivered. We will use our new mobile facility to work with industry and test HRS for compliance with the regulations, which is essential to ensure public support for FCEVs use."

TUV SUD National Engineering Laboratory has selected Edinburgh-based hydrogen technology specialist Logan Energy to construct the mobile test facility. Chosen for their proven track-record in delivering integrated hydrogen technologies, the company has successfully supported the development and deployment of zero emission technologies throughout the UK and Europe.

Bill Ireland, CEO of Logan Energy, said: “This is an exciting collaboration between two Scotland-based teams and is fantastic recognition of our expertise and experience in delivering hydrogen systems and refueling stations. This project is all about accuracy in a process that has proved difficult to control. We will be setting industry standards to ensure accuracy when it comes to refueling vehicles."

Once completed, the new mobile primary standard facility will also be used to conduct a research campaign, which will be used to update industry guidance for the design, construction, modification and maintenance of HRS. This latest project supports TUV SUD National Engineering Laboratory’s ongoing work as part of the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR) Metrology for Hydrogen Vehicles program, which is part of the world’s first large-scale research project to tackle hydrogen fuel measurement inaccuracy challenges.

As MRC informed previously, global oil demand may have already peaked, according to BP's latest long-term energy outlook, as the COVID-19 pandemic kicks the world economy onto a weaker growth trajectory and accelerates the shift to cleaner fuels.

Earlier this year, BP said the deadly coronavirus outbreak could cut global oil demand growth by 40 per cent in 2020, putting pressure on Opec producers and Russia to curb supplies to keep prices in check.

And in September 2019, six world's major petrochemical companies in Flanders, Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the Netherlands (Trilateral Region) announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing as they assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,594,510 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high denstiy polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 880,130 tonnes in the nine months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports, excluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.


S&B completes 300,000 bpd NGL fractionation project for Phillips 66

MOSCOW (MRC) -- S&B has announced the successful, on-time completion of two NGL fractionation plants for Phillips 66, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The plants have a combined capacity of 300,000 bpd, quadrupling the processing capacity at the Phillips 66 Sweeny Hub.

“The successful completion of this project is due to our team and the partnership we created with Phillips 66 throughout the entire process,” said David Taylor, COO of S&B Engineers and Constructors. “Planning, designing, and building a large-scale plant, such as this, takes a significant amount of time and effort. Phillips 66 trusted our processes, procedures and workflows, which created an environment that allowed us all to succeed.”

The on-time mechanical completion of this project has increased significance because peak construction occurred at a time when COVID-19 cases were rising in the United States.

“Safety is our number one value at S&B,” said Taylor. “With 2,000 people working on site, we took precautions early to ensure the safety of our team members. Mandates for face coverings, staggered lunches and buses, social distancing, and compliance auditing were all important protocol changes that our team members had to accommodate to keep each other safe.”

In the last five years, S&B has designed and built 13 NGL fractionation plants. With the completion of this project S&B has now designed and installed more than 2 MMbpd of NGL fractionation capacity for its clients.

This project added the second and third fractionation plants to the original first train built for Phillips 66. All three plants were executed contractually lump sum in the Phillips 66 Sweeny Hub in Old Ocean, Texas.

As MRC informed before, last month, US refiner Phillips 66 said it plans to reconfigure its refinery in Rodeo, California to produce renewable fuels from used cooking oil, fats, greases and soybean oils.

We remind that US-based Phillips 66 remains open to developing another ethane cracker for its Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) joint venture, the refiner's CEO said in March 2018.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,594,510 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high denstiy polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 880,130 tonnes in the nine months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports, excluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.