Diab selects SABIC new LNP COLORCOMP compound to enhance foams for the core of wind turbine blades

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Diab Group, a world leader in sandwich composite solutions, chose SABIC’s new LNP COLORCOMP compound using nano technology to reduce weight and improve mechanical properties of sandwich structures with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) foams, which are used as the core material of wind turbine blades, as per SABIC's press release.

The Swedish converter selected the breakthrough SABIC compound over standard nucleators for production of its Divinycell PY PET foam core series. By reducing the foam’s cell size by a factor of up to two, while maintaining the same density and decreasing the cell size dispersity, LNP COLORCOMP compound helps enable the final part to be lighter and more efficient in use. These improvements to the core foam material can help designers create new, longer blades that address increasingly stringent standards for precision, weight and consistent quality, and contribute to greater overall energy generation.

“Even though PET foam is relatively new to the wind turbine core materials market, as a thermoplastic it offers many advantages and is a good candidate for broader use in turbine blades,” said Magdalena Sandstrom, CTO Diab Group. “We are focused on optimizing the performance of our PET foams to drive industry adoption of a more sustainable solution. SABIC’s new LNP COLORCOMP compound, a material that provides increased control over cell nucleation and growth, is helping us achieve this goal. By leveraging this unique technology, we are developing innovative products that enable the implementation of larger and more-powerful blades.”

“Our collaboration with Diab has opened exciting new opportunities to advance wind energy through higher-performing core materials that enable innovative composite designs,” said Luc Govaerts, director, Formulation & Application Development for SABIC’s Specialties Business. “Our novel compound based on nano technology, together with our formulation and material science expertise, help Diab to innovate, and will give wind turbine manufacturers access to core composite products that are strong, light and recyclable. Working with our customers, SABIC continues to do all we can to promote sustainability efforts across the spectrum, including supporting broader use of renewable energy sources.”

The market for wind power is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 7.9 percent between 2020 and 2025, according to Mordor Intelligence. To support this growth, wind turbine blade designs have increased in size and efficiency to boost energy generating capacity. In Europe, the average length of onshore wind turbine blades is 50 meters (164 feet). In the United States, blades also average 50 meters, but their length is increasing, with some blades measuring up to 80 meters (262 feet). Larger blades demand new designs and improved core materials.

Another challenge is extending the useful lifespan of wind turbines to amortize their capital cost. Thermoplastic materials, such as Diab’s PET foam, deliver strength, stiffness, durability and design freedom that can help increase blade life.

Also, thermoplastics can help improve the sustainability of wind turbine blades. There are growing concerns about how to recycle these massive, complex parts, most of which are currently landfilled. Using thermoplastic PET foams make turbine blades easier to recycle. PET foam solutions offer stable supply, cost-effectiveness, and consistent material properties.

SABIC’s novel LNP COLORCOMP compound features a formulation that typically provides improved nucleation and helps to enhance the efficiency of the foaming process for a wide range of foam densities. By significantly decreasing foam cell size compared to standard nucleating agents such as talc and ensuring uniform cell size distribution, the SABIC product typically helps to reduce resin uptake by the foam during composite manufacture. Less resin contributes to a lighter-weight blade.

Another potential advantage of decreased cell size is the elimination of secondary foam processes or surface treatments that are used to close foam cells and decrease resin absorption. Further, smaller cell size and narrower size distribution can potentially deliver improvements in shear strength/strain properties that are not possible with conventional technologies or lower-density foams.

Beyond wind turbine blade core materials made with PET foams, SABIC’s new LNP COLORCOMP compound typically offers the opportunity to enhance foams used in other applications, such as marine, building & construction and packaging components. SABIC’s LNP COLORCOMP compound is available globally.

As MRC informed earlier, in November 2020, SABIC announced the successful commercialization of LEXAN HP92AF Anti-Fog film, targeted especially at demanding COVID-19 protection equipment such as safety face shields and goggles in front-line work environments.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, overall estimate PET consumption in Russia totalled 71,830 tonnes in December 2020, up by 8% year on year. PET consumption in all sectors (injection moulding, fibers/filaments, films) exceeded the level of 2019 by 17% and amounted to 717,310 tonnes.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world's top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world's market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Dow CEO Fitterling joins board of 3M

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO of Dow, has been elected to the board of directors of 3M (St. Paul, Minnesota), increasing its size from 11 to 12 members, said Chemweek.

Fitterling, a 35-year veteran of Dow, was named the company’s CEO in July 2018 and elected chairman in April 2020. He previously served as president and chief operating officer of Dow and as chief operating officer for the materials science division of DowDuPont.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Jim to our board," says 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman. "Jim has a deep understanding and appreciation of how materials science can spark meaningful, sustainable innovation and a strong track record of advancing environment, social, and governance goals."

As MRC wrote before, Dow will spend approximately USD294 to install and operate air pollution control and monitoring technology at 4 US chemical facilities as part of a settlement with The Department of Justice (DOJ), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), according to a statement by the DOJ.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 03.02.2021

1. Wacker projects swing to profit in 2020, lower sales due to COVID-19 impact on volumes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wacker expects to post a net income of EUR200m in 2020, swinging from a net loss of EUR630m in 2019 on improved operational earnings, the German specialty chemicals firm said. The company's earnings before income and taxes (EBIT) in 2019 were weighed by an impairment charge of EUR760m on the carrying amount of its polysilicon production facilities. Due to the coronavirus pandemic’s effects, the company’s sales contracted sharply in the second quarter, the company said in a statement. The company's earnings regained some ground in the third and fourth quarters of last year, supported mainly by robust construction and polysilicon demand, but did not fully make up for the sales slump in the second quarter, it said. "Wacker's sales trend was slowed not only by somewhat lower volumes year over year, but also by price changes and exchange-rate effects," it said.


Crude oil tests one-year highs as market eyes OPEC+ compliance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Crude futures settled near one-year highs Feb. 2 amid a focus on OPEC+ production compliance and improved demand outlooks, reported S&P Global.

NYMEX March WTI settled USD1.21 higher at USD54.76/b and ICE April Brent climbed USD1.11 to USD57.46/b.

A second OPEC production survey, this time by Bloomberg, confirmed the group's over-compliance to cuts in January, with production coming in at around 120,000 b/d less than the 22.12 million b/d agreement.

OPEC+ ministers will convene Feb. 3 for a monitoring committee meeting. With production quotas set through March and oil prices rising to pre-crash levels on the back of Saudi Arabia's surprise extra output cut, delegates say they expect relatively peaceful talks on the committee's usual agenda items of quota compliance and oil market forecasts.

The monitoring committee is likely to stress the importance of fulfilling cut commitments, including so-called "compensation cuts" owed by several members.

Conventional wisdom and historic precedent suggest the rise in prices may erode OPEC+ production discipline. Compliance among the 10 OPEC members and nine non-OPEC countries with quotas under the deal slipped to 99% in December from 101% in November, according to several delegates who have reviewed the data that the committee will discuss.

Front-month Brent and WTI were last higher in late February 2020.

"Cuts by OPEC have had the desired effect, and the main caveat with OPEC is compliance rates," Geordie Wilkes, head of research at Sucden UK Ltd. said. "I think the cut by Saudi is certainly a sign of willingness to cooperate and get a deal, but also a sign that on the demand side things are still poor ... March, April does looks slightly more rosy."

Saudi Arabia announced in January that it would voluntarily cut output by 1 million b/d in February and March.
Demand outlook

NYMEX March RBOB settled up 2.59 cents at USD1.6160/gal and March ULSD climbed 2.77 cents to USD1.6746/gal.

Demand outlooks received a boost from positive developments on the global pandemic front. In the US, daily vaccinations outpaced the number of new COVID-19 infections for the first time Feb. 1.

"The Biden administration appears well on the way to hitting their goal of a 100 million vaccination in 100 days. US COVID new cases and hospitalizations are both declining, while vaccinations have eclipsed the total number of coronavirus cases," OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya said in a note. "The demand outlook continues to improve alongside the global economic recovery. The biggest risk remains a setback in Chinese crude demand and so far that does not seem to be happening."

China's mass migration ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, also referred to as Chunyun, is unlikely to affect gasoline and gasoil demand, consultancy Facts Global Energy said Feb. 2.

Recent pandemic flare-ups have prompted Chinese officials to discourage citizens from traveling during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, but despite these efforts the negative impact on transportation fuel demand is likely to be limited compared to the same period during 2020.

S&P Global Platts Analytics projected China's gasoline demand at about 3.4 million b/d in January-February, up 20% year on year but 5.5% below the level in the same period of 2019.

The holiday began Jan. 28, and according to Chinese Ministry of Transport data, both rail and air passenger volumes were 70% lower than in the first few days of last year's migration period.

FGE said it continues to expect a shift to personal cars, as people are likely to avoid public transportation, for long-distance travel in China, after vehicle traffic on highways during the first few days of Chunyun saw a much smaller decline of 5%-10%.

As MRC informed previously, oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, according to an official with International Energy Agency's (IEA) statement.

We remind that the COVID-19 outbreak has led to an unprecedented decline in demand affecting all sections of the Russian economy, which has impacted the demand for petrochemicals in the short-term. However, the pandemic triggered an increase in the demand for polymers in food packaging, and cleaning and hygiene products, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. With Russian petrochemical companies having the advantage of access to low-cost feedstock, and proximity to demand-rich Asian (primarily China) and European markets for the supply of petrochemical products, these companies appear to be well-positioned to derive full benefits from an improving market environment and global economy post-COVID-19, says GlobalData.

We also remind that in December 2020, Sibur, Gazprom Neft, and Uzbekneftegaz agreed to cooperate on potential investments in Uzbekistan including a major expansion of Uzbekneftegaz’s existing Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex (SGCC) and the proposed construction of a new gas chemicals facility. The signed cooperation agreement for the projects includes “the creation of a gas chemical complex using methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology, and the expansion of the production capacity of the Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex”.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,220,640 tonnes in 2020, up by 2% year on year. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market reached 1 240,000 tonnes in 2020 (calculated using the formula: production, minus exports, plus imports, exluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020).

Sipchem turnarounds for polymer, ethyl acetate plants in Saudi Arabia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sahara International Petrochemical (Sipchem) has announced a scheduled turnaround at its polymers plant, International Polymers (IPC) and its ethyl acetate plant, Sipchem Chemicals (SCC), said Chemweek.

The turnaround at IPC began on 1 February and is expected to last for six days. IPC produces 200,000 t/yr of polypropylene (PP) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) each.

The turnaround at SCC, which is conducted on its 100,000 t/yr ethyl/butyl acetate swing unit, also began on 1 February and is expected to last for 16 days.

Sipchem, a producer of methanol, polymers, and acetic acid, in 2019 merged its operations with fellow Saudi Arabia-based Sahara Petrochemicals, a supplier of PP. Since the merger, Sipchem has begun to operate a 468,000 t/yr propane dehydrogenation unit.

As per MRC, Sahara International Petrochemical Co. (Sipchem) is planning to mothball the Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) plant, owned by its affiliate, Sipchem Chemical Co., and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) Film plant that is owned by affiliate firm, Saudi Specialized Products Co. Steps to implement the decision are underway, Sipchem said in a statement to Tadawul, adding that the suspension of both plants will start on Jan. 1, 2021, until further notice. The company expects a positive financial impact starting from Q1 2021 results.

As per MRC ScanPlast, November imports of other ethylene polymers, including ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA), were 9,100 tonnes, compared to 10,100 tonnes in October. Overall imports of other ethylene polymers reached 90,200 tonnes over the stated period versus 85,200 tonnes a year earlier.