Enerkem announces waste-to-methanol, biofuels plant in Quebec, Canada

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Enerkem (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) has announced plans to build an 875-million Canadian dollar (USD684-million) waste-to-methanol and biofuels plant in Varennes, Quebec, in partnership with Shell, Suncor, and Proman, according to Chemweek.

The proposed Varennes Carbon Recycling (VCR) facility will be one of the world’s largest renewable hydrogen and oxygen production plants with an 87-megawatt electrolyzer, and convert over 200,000 metric tons of non-recyclable waste and wood waste into nearly 125 million liters/year of biofuels and renewable chemicals, it says. The project would create over 500 jobs during construction and about 100 permanent positions during operations, with estimated yearly recurring economic benefits for Quebec of USD85 million, it adds. A total of CD60 million has so far been invested on development of the project, including site preparations and the obtaining of required permits.

The proposed partnership is subject to finalization of commercial agreements, Enerkem says. Shell, Suncor, and Proman will all be leading investors in the project, with Hydro-Quebec to supply the green hydrogen and oxygen. The project also has the support of the Quebec and Canadian governments, it says.

Enerkem’s proprietary thermochemical process enables the conversion of carbon into biofuels and renewable chemicals made from methanol, which will be the project’s intermediary product, it says. The company operated an initial pilot project in Westbury, Quebec, and its first commercial 38-million liters/year plant producing methanol and ethanol is located in Edmonton, Alberta.

“The further implementation of Enerkem’s unique waste gasification technology will be a significant step towards enabling the wider availability of highly sustainable biomethanol, as part of the global low-carbon energy transition,” says David Cassidy, Proman chief executive. Proman is the world’s second largest producer of methanol.

As MRC reported earlier, in May 2020, NOVA Chemicals Corp. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) and Enerkem Inc. (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) entered into a joint development agreement to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste into ethylene, a basic building block of plastics. Working together, the companies will research advanced recycling technology to transform hard-to-recycle municipal waste, including items such as plastics, household waste, and construction materials, into ethylene at full commercial scale. Ethylene, produced from waste, would advance a plastics circular economy and help meet consumer brand goals for recycled content in packaging.

Ethylene is the main feedstock for the production of polyethylene (PE).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,760,950 tonnes in the first ten months of 2020, up by 3% year on year. Only high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments increased.

Clariant names former AkzoNobel exec as CEO

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant says that its board has appointed Conrad Keijzer as the company’s new CEO, effective 1 January 2021. Hariolf Kottmann, Clariant’s executive chairman ad interim, will return to his position as chairman of the board, once Keijzer assumes responsibility, reported Chemweek with reference to the company's statement.

Kottmann notes that the decision to appoint Keijzer as Clariant’s CEO “is fully supported by the board representatives of our two major shareholders Sabic and the Sud-Chemie legacy shareholders.”

Keijzer was earlier CEO of the performance coatings division and an executive committee member at AkzoNobel, where he spent 24 years, and most recently CEO at industrial minerals company Imerys (Paris, France). He says he will lead “Clariant in the next phase of its important transformation into a high-value specialty chemicals company.”

As MRC informed before, in October 2020, Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) announced the construction of a new state-of-the-art catalyst production site in China. This project represents a significant investment which further strengthens Clariant’s position in China and enhances its ability to support its customers in the country’s thriving petrochemicals industry.

The new facility will be primarily responsible for producing the Catofin catalyst for propane dehydrogenation, which is used in the production of olefins such as propylene. Thanks to its excellent reliability and productivity, Catofin delivers superior annual production output compared to alternative technologies, resulting in increased overall profitability for propylene producers, says the company. Construction at the Dushan Port Economic Development Zone in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province was scheduled to commence in Q3 2020, and Clariant expects to be at full production capacity by 2022.

Propylene is the main feedstocks for the production of polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 978,870 tonnes in January-October 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports minus producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply of exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints.

Showa Denko opens subsidiary branch in China to sell high-purity gases

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Showa Denko (SDK) said on Wednesday that its Chinese subsidiary Shanghai Showa Chemicals has set up a new high-purity gas branch in Shaanxi province, said Chemweek.

The branch in Xi’an started operations in December. It is Showa Denko's third business base in China that will sell and distribute high-purity gas for electronics, following those in Shanghai and Wuhan. The new branch aims to upgrade their customer service and strengthen their system to ensure stable supply of high-purity gases, it said.

The business has been growing rapidly thanks to robust demand in China. “The demand for semiconductors has been increasing due to the spread of the 5G five generation and cloud computing services, and increase in the amount of communicated data resulting from the rise in distribution of movie contents,” Showa Denko said.

“The Chinese market for semiconductors has been expanding very rapidly due to the Chinese government's policy to nurture the electronics industry,” it added.

As MRC informed earlier, Japanese firm Hitachi Chemical Company changed name to Showa Denko Materials on 1 October this year.

As MRC informed earlier, Showa Denko (SDK) expanded production lines to produce vinyl ester resin (VE) and synthetic resin emulsion (EM) in the premises of Shanghai Showa Highpolymer Co., Ltd. (SSHP), a Chinese subsidiary of SDK, and has increased production of VE and EM there, aiming to expand the Showa Denko Group’s functional resin business in China.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, October total production of unmixed PVC grew to 86,600 tonnes from 86,000 tonnes a month earlier, SayanskKhimPlast and Bashkir Soda Company increased their capacity utilisation. Overall output of polymer was 805,100 tonnes in the first ten months of 2020, which virtually corresponds to the last year's figure. Two producers increased their production, whereas two other manufacturers reduced their output.

Showa Denko K.K. Mainly engaged in the petrochemical business. The company's petrochemical division produces and markets industrial gases, olefins, organic chemicals, and others.

Hitachi Chemical is a consolidated subsidiary of Showa Denko and is involved in the manufacturing, processing and sales of functional materials and advanced components and systems.

ECHA to send proposed restriction on microplastics to EU Commission

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA; Helsinki, Finland) says it will send its restriction proposal on microplastics to the European Commission following the adoption of the proposal by ECHA's two committees, reported Chemweek.

According to ECHA, its Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) has adopted an opinion on a restriction proposal that would ban microplastics in products such as cosmetics, detergents, and fertilizers and could lead to a ban on their use as soft infill on artificial turf sports pitches. The target of the proposed restriction is to prevent more than 500,000 metric tons of releases of intentionally added microplastics over a 20-year period, ECHA says.

Earlier this year, ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) concluded that an EU-wide restriction under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation is the most appropriate means to address the risk of billions of small, solid plastic particles polluting the environment. SEAC also reached conclusions on the expected benefits and costs to society of the proposal, it says.

ECHA notes that other products such as paints and inks may also contain microplastics, but their use does not always lead to environmental releases, so these uses should not be prohibited but would need to be reported to ECHA to ensure that residual releases are monitored and could be controlled. Suppliers would also be required to provide instructions on how residual releases can be minimized, it says.

The total cost of the restriction to European society, over a period of 20 years, is estimated to be EUR10.8 billion (USD13.1 billion) or EUR19.1 billion depending on how environmental risks from the granular infill material, mainly from shredded car tires, are addressed, ECHA says. The costs cover the need to reformulate mixtures and replace microplastics with alternative materials, and the need for authorities to enforce the restriction, it says.

Restrictions under REACH are proposed by the Commission, voted on by EU member states in the REACH committee, and scrutinized by the European Council and European Parliament.

As MRC wrote previously, in mid-October, 2020, ECHA welcomed the European Commission’s EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and says it looks forward "to supporting its implementation". With its scientific and technical competency, the ECHA can play a key role in the various actions outlined in the strategy to work towards a toxic-free environment to protect people and the environment from hazardous chemicals, it said.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in October 2020 by 7.2% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals grew in the first ten months of 2020 by 6.3% year on year, according to Rosstat's data. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the January-October output. October production of polymers in primary form grew to 857,000 tonnes from 852,000 tonnes in September. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 8,340,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 17% year on year.

Mitsubishi Chemical to build MMA plant in Geismar, Louisiana

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsubishi Chemical has acquired a greenfield property at a large integrated site in Geismar, Louisiana, and plans to advance its feasibility study for the design and construction of a 350,000-metric tons/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant, said Chemweek.

The plant will be the third and largest to employ the Alpha production technology developed by subsidiary Lucite. The company earlier in March this year announced its intent to build the plant.

Mitsubishi says that the location is suitable due to the readily available major raw materials, logistics infrastructure, integrated services, and skilled workforce. The project is in the early engineering stage and scheduled for final investment decision in early 2022. If approved, the plant would commence production in 2025.

The company earlier in November decided to end production of MMA and methacrylic acid at Beaumont, Texas, and close the facility. It plans to terminate production on 28 February 2021. The site has a production capacity for 135,000 metric tons/year of MMA.

The main application, consuming approximately 75% MMA, is in the production of polymethyl methacrylate acrylic plastics (PMMA). Methyl methacrylate is also used to produce methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene copolymer (MBS), used as a modifier for polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, October total production of unmixed PVC grew to 86,600 tonnes from 86,000 tonnes a month earlier, SayanskKhimPlast and Bashkir Soda Company increased their capacity utilisation. Overall output of polymer was 805,100 tonnes in the first ten months of 2020, which virtually corresponds to the last year"s figure. Two producers increased their production, whereas two other manufacturers reduced their output.