Evonik expands AI cooperation with US-based IBM for chemical industry

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German Evonik expands cooperation with IBM in the field of digitization. The two companies extend their strategic partnership ahead of schedule until 2025, as per the company press release.

Taking this decision early creates more opportunities for longer-term projects.

Furthermore, Evonik will be involved in the research and development of artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Evonik is the world's first chemical company to participate at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab.

In this unique interplaying at the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, experts from academia and industry are investigating the potential uses and effects of artificial intelligence. "Bright minds from science and business are working jointly together on digital progress. We are delighted to be part of it," says Henrik Hahn, chief digital officer (CDO) of Evonik.

AI is a useful tool for innovation and improvements in the chemical industry. Evonik looks forward to joining the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab and its advisory board to contribute its ideas and applications across materials discovery, formulation technology, knowledge management and market analysis to advance overall applications of AI in the chemical industry. "The work on artificial intelligence is also a litmus test of what digital systems can do: For example, we are looking at how decisions can be made better, more systematically and faster with the help of algorithms," says Hahn. "Ultimately, it's about the value AI can add to the company," he says.

Hahn takes a positive view of the strategic partnership with IBM, which has already been active since 2017: "The joint work has helped to drive forward digital transformation in a targeted manner. Evonik sees itself as a pioneer in digitization in the chemical industry. Our partnership with IBM and our new commitment to the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab further substantiate this claim."

As part of the partnership, Evonik and IBM have already investigated new possibilities to create a collaborative intelligence between humans and machines, in pilot projects. Experts no longer have to search for valuable information like for a needle in a haystack. Instead, decades of knowledge are now easy to search and to analyze intuitively. New connections between data can now be found. Chemist can intuitively explore and compare formulations and their related properties to come up with ideas for new products.

Evonik and IBM have also succeeded in building Artificial Intelligence that will further accelerate the research for new materials. In close collaboration with IBM Research a Deep Neural Network was developed and trained that predicts properties or new formulations for high-performance polymers. These predictions help researchers like a compass pointing them in promising directions for new products and customer solutions.

As MRC informed earlier, in February, 2020, Dow and Evonik entered into an exclusive technology partnership. Together, they plan to bring a unique method for directly synthesizing propylene glycol (PG) from propylene and hydrogen peroxide to market maturity.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The focus on more specialty businesses, customer-oriented innovative prowess and a trustful and performance-oriented corporate culture form the heart of Evonik’s corporate strategy. They are the lever for profitable growth and a sustained increase in the value of the company. Evonik benefits specifically from its customer proximity and leading market positions. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world with more than 33,000 employees.

Phillips 66 selects Worley to convert its refinery in California into renewable fuels-manufacturing plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Worley has been awarded a front-end engineering services contract by Phillips 66 to convert its San Francisco refinery in Rodeo, California, USA into a renewable fuels-manufacturing facility, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Under the contract, Worley will provide front-end engineering design services for the facility, which will be executed by Worley’s North America West team with support from Worley’s Global Integrated Delivery team.

The project will reconfigure the refinery and produce up to 650 million gallons per year of renewable transportation fuels from used cooking oils, fats, greases and vegetable oils.

Once built, the renewable fuels facility is expected to be one of the world’s largest facilities of its kind.

“As a global company headquartered in Australia, this project aligns with our strategic focus on sustainability and delivering a more sustainable world. We are pleased that Phillips 66 has engaged Worley in this important renewable fuels project and look forward to supporting Phillips 66’s energy transition goals, while also supporting Worley’s strategic focus on future fuels,” said Chris Ashton, Chief Executive Officer of Worley.

As MRC reported earlier, in October 2020, 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 241,030 tonnes in January 2021 versus 217,890 tonnes a year earlier. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

SI Group to launch plant to make Weston 705-brand antioxidants in Danyang

Moscow (MRC) -- Performance additives maker SI Group is opening a new plant to make Weston 705-brand antioxidants in Danyang, China by May 2021, said Canplastics.

In a news release, officials with the Schenectady, N.Y.-based company said that the additional sourcing point for this strategic antioxidant product will further increase security of supply for SI Group’s global customer base and will enable quicker expansion of the product in China and the rest of Asia Pacific region through compressed lead time and simplified logistics.

Until now, SI Group has supplied the Chinese market with Weston 705 from its U.S. plant in Morgantown, W.Va. SI Group officials describe Weston 705 as a modern liquid phosphite antioxidant that offers global regulatory compliance combined with a superior performance profile compared to the incumbent solutions. “It represents an industrially proven drop-in substitute to TNPP in most of its applications and can be deployed in a broad range of polyolefins and other plastics and elastomers that require stabilization,” SI Group said. The material meets most food contact standards and also offers lower discolouration.

"This is a prime example of our investment in the Asia Pacific region,” said David Lu, SI Group’s vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific. “We are committed to developing leading solutions that meet our customers’ needs with the global footprint to support reliable supply."

As it was written earlier, GE Toshiba Silicones (GETS) opened a silicones manufacturing facility in Nantong, Jiangsu province of China in 2007. The new plant, which costed USD78 million, will be the largest GETS facility in China.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in February 2021 by 5.3% year on year. Thus, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 7.5% in the first two months of 2021, according to Rosstat's data. Last month's production of polymers in primary form in Russia was 861,000 tonnes versus 196,000 tonnes in January. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 1,770,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 8.4% year on year.

Shell to seek shareholders support for energy transition strategy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shell has issued its Energy Transition Strategy publication, which will be put to shareholders for an advisory vote at the company’s Annual General Meeting on May 18, 2021, as per the company's press release as of 15 April.

This is the first time that an energy company has asked shareholders to vote on its energy transition strategy.

The decision to seek an advisory vote on its transition strategy was first announced in February when the energy major laid out details of plans to further grow its renewables and power business.

"As we transform our business, it is more important than ever for shareholders to understand and support our approach," CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement. "We are asking our shareholders to vote for an energy transition strategy that is designed to bring our energy products, our services, and our investments in line with the goal of the Paris Agreement and the global drive to combat climate change."

Shell said its shareholders will vote on a new Energy Transition Strategy publication which sets out the company's target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The vote is purely advisory and will not be binding, Shell said, noting that its board and executive committee will remain responsible for setting and approving Shell's energy transition strategy.

One of the first international oil and gas companies to set targets for reducing the net carbon footprint of its energy products, Shell has deepened its carbon emissions targets in the last year as pressure mounts on oil majors to help mitigate climate change.

Using 2016 as a baseline, Shell plans to reduce the net carbon intensity of the energy products it sells by 6%-8% by 2023, 20% by 2030 and 45% by 2035, before reaching 100% in 2050. The company also aims to double its annual electricity sales by 2030, to 560 TWh, and have 15 million retail and business customers.

Shell will publish an update to its Energy Transition Strategy publication every three years until 2050. Every year, starting in 2022, it will also seek an advisory vote on its progress towards its plans and targets.

As MRC wrote previously, Shell says it will invest between USD4-5 billion annually to grow its chemicals and products business as part of a wider rebalancing of its group portfolio to reach its net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050.

We remind that Royal Dutch Shell has reported an outage at its olefins plant in Deer Park, Texas, USA, on 5 January, 2021. The plant flared for 16 hours following unspecified process upset. Maximum steam cracker operating rate in Texas falls to 89%.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 241,030 tonnes in January 2021 versus 217,890 tonnes a year earlier. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Borealis commenced chemical recycling project in Stenungsund

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Borealis has commenced a new project to secure an increased supply of chemically recycled feedstock for the production of more circular base chemicals and polyolefin-based products, said Interplasinsights.

A feasibility study for a chemical recycling unit to be established at the Borealis production location in Stenungsund, Sweden, is now underway.

Funded in part by a grant awarded by the Swedish Energy Agency, the study is being carried out with project partner Stena Recycling. Operations are expected to begin in 2024.

The unit will help accelerate the transformation to plastics circularity by enabling the replacement on a larger scale of fossil-based feedstock by integrating more chemically recycled feedstock via the mass balance model.

Borealis will also co-operate independently with Fortum Recycling and Waste on a project involving the sourcing of plastic waste to the chemical recycling unit. Fortum will apply for public funding for a feasibility study to this end.

Lucrece Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation and Technology and Circular Economy Solutions, said: “In the true spirit of EverMinds, we accelerate action to plastics circularity through collaboration. The co-operation with Stena and Fortum allows us to offer our customers and partners virgin-like polyolefins from chemically recycled post-consumer waste."

As it was written earlier, Borealis is planning to carry out maintenance work at its phenol plant at Porvoo, Finland, between April and May. The Porvoo site includes a 190,000-metric tons/year phenol plant and a 118,000-metric tons/year acetone facility.

Phenol is the main raw material for bisphenol A (BPA) production, which in turn is used to produce polycarbonate (PC).

According to MRC ScanPlast , the total consumption of PC granulate in Russia (excluding imports and exports to Belarus) amounted to 8,100 tonnes in January 2021, which is 20% more than the same indicator of the previous year (6,800 tonnes).

Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Borealis currently employs around 6,500 and operates in over 120 countries.