Solvay confirms plans to create largest North American production facility for electric vehicle materials

Solvay confirms plans to create largest North American production facility for electric vehicle materials

MRC -- Solvay confirms its plans to build a new battery-grade PVDF facility in Augusta, Georgia, said the company.

With more than half of U.S. car sales projected to be electric by 2030, the U.S. produced PVDF - a thermoplastic fluoropolymer - will allow supply for the rapidly growing EV battery market, meeting the growing needs of U.S. domestic energy storage markets. The new operations will provide material for more than 5 million EV batteries per year at full capacity and create hundreds of jobs throughout the value chain.

Solvay and Orbia have just signed their joint venture agreement for this project. The partnership secures the supply by Orbia of needed materials for Solvay to manufacture its suspension-grade polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) production, which is used as a lithium-ion binder and separator coating in electric vehicle batteries. Solvay, on the other hand, will bring its process technology and global market know-how to this venture. In combination, Solvay’s Solef® PVDF innovations and Orbia’s raw material assets and production expertise will enable delivery of PVDF that enables electric vehicles to go farther on each charge, extends battery life and improves battery safety.

We remind, Solvay announced its plans to lower the production capacity of its soda ash plant in Torrelavega, Spain by 300,000 tonnes/y to 600,000 tonnes/y, effective Jan 2024. The site will now concentrate on serving the needs of regional soda ash and premium grade sodium bicarbonate customers.

Epsilyte partners with Fimic for advanced EPS recycling

Epsilyte partners with Fimic for advanced EPS recycling

MRC -- Advanced insulative materials producer Epsilyte, The Woodlands, Texas, has partnered with Italy-based equipment provider Fimic SRL to broaden its expanded polystyrene (EPS) recycling operations, said the company.

Epsilyte says it will leverage Fimic’s melt filtration equipment to address physical contamination in recycled EPS. The company says Fimic’s technology demonstrates versatility in its ability to handle different types of physical contamination and minimizes the risk of damage to recycling equipment. Epsilyte also cites Fimic’s reliable delivery schedule as a factor in its partnership decision.

"Epsilyte is committed toward a more sustainable future and demonstrates it in the investments we're making in technologies like Fimic Melt Filtration,” says DJ Harris, Epsilyte plant manager. “Their knowledge and experience in the filtration sector are highly valued, and our collaboration with Fimic is serving as a foundation of Epsilyte's improved capability to process a variety of recycled polystyrene.

Earlier this year, Epsilyte received the Excellence in EPS Recycling award at the EPS Expo in Orlando, Florida. The award recognizes outstanding achievements in foam recycling and enhancements in innovation and technology.

Kem One Ceases Caustic Production in France Due to Profitability Issues

Kem One Ceases Caustic Production in France Due to Profitability Issues

MRC -- Kem One, a significant player in the chemical industry, has made a strategic decision to temporarily suspend operations at its chlorine and caustic soda production facilities in France, said Chemanalyst.

This move is driven by the persistent issue of low profitability that the company has been grappling with. Kem One has announced that this shutdown is expected to endure for several months, reflecting the need to navigate through turbulent economic conditions.

The primary impetus behind this challenging decision stems from the continuous deterioration of market conditions within the processing sector. Kem One has observed a disconcerting absence of signs pointing to a swift recovery in demand, while the prevailing dynamics in the market are posing considerable challenges to the profit margins of European producers.

Over the preceding months, Kem One has witnessed a significant reduction in its production output, with figures showing that it has nearly halved. This substantial drop in production can be largely attributed to reduced demand for construction-related products and chemicals across the industry. To underscore the gravity of the situation, recent data from Eurochlor, an industry organization dedicated to chlorine production, reveals that capacity utilization for chlor-alkali products across Europe in the year 2023 is anticipated to reach historically low levels.

Kem One's presence in the French chemical industry is marked by two major production facilities. The first is located in Lavera, with an annual capacity of 341,382 tonnes of chlorine and 333,373 tonnes of caustic soda. The second is situated in Fos, boasting a capacity of 635,710 tonnes of chlorine and a substantial 2,202,200 tonnes of caustic soda per year.

Prior to this recent development, it was reported that Kem One, recognized as the third-largest producer of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in Europe, faced an unscheduled shutdown of its caustic and chlorine production operations in St. Fons, France, in February. This unexpected disruption was triggered by a technical malfunction at the Kem One plant in Saint-Fons, which resulted in a production hiatus lasting for nine days.

The decisions taken by Kem One highlight the intricate and dynamic nature of the chemical and processing industry, where factors such as profitability and market conditions hold a pivotal role in shaping operational strategies. These actions undertaken by Kem One reflect the continuous challenges faced by the sector and underscore the company's commitment to adapting to the ever-evolving economic landscape.

BASF invests in start-up 3Helix Inc

BASF invests in start-up 3Helix Inc

MRC -- BASF and 3Helix Inc., a U.S.-based technology start-up, announce their innovation partnership on 3Helix’s proprietary CHP technology, said the company.

The partnership involves an equity investment and licensing agreement, granting BASF exclusive rights to commercialize CHP solutions for the personal care field.

3Helix's patented CHP technology is based on short, single-stranded collagen-like peptides that have the unique ability to bind to damaged and denatured collagen, enabling extraordinary anti-aging claims.

The partnership comes after successful research and development work by 3Helix, which has seen their CHP technology quickly progress from laboratory scale to pilot stage. Recognizing the immense potential of this technology, BASF plans to bring it in-house and aims to launch initial CHP solutions in 2025.

Since its establishment in 2015, 3Helix has focused on developing an innovative technology platform to target damaged collagen for various applications, including personal care.

“It has been an exciting journey to bring our technology to this point where we can partner with BASF,” states Mike Kirkness, CEO of 3Helix Inc. “We look forward to the intense collaboration in the coming years and welcome BASF to the 3Helix Board of Directors.”

“With this partnership, BASF continues to demonstrate our investment in open innovation and expand our innovative offerings to our customers,” said Dr. Marina Safont Sempere, Director of New Business Models & Digital Officer, Care Chemicals at BASF. “3Helix’s results from laboratory trials are very encouraging and show the potential of this new innovation for the personal care market.”

The partnership between BASF and 3Helix is a further example of how BASF’s Care Chemicals Division is addressing future challenges.

We remind, BASF posted a 57.3% drop on earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) and a 28.3% drop in sales in the third quarter, due to considerably lower prices and lower volumes. For Q4, BASF expects global chemical production to further stabilise, while the macroeconomic outlook remains extremely uncertain in the current interest rate policy environment and in view of increasing geopolitical risks. The company also said that rising raw materials prices in particular could weigh on demand and margins.

AdvanSix swings to Q3

AdvanSix swings to Q3

MRC -- Integrated nylon 6 producer AdvanSix on Friday reported a third-quarter net loss of $8m, compared with net income of $10m in Q3 2022, said the company.

Sales fell 32.6% year on year to $323m while total costs and expenses fell only 28.6% and came in higher than sales.

Sales fell as market-based pricing was unfavourable by 24%, primarily reflecting reduced ammonium sulphate (AS) pricing amid lower raw material input costs and a more stable global nitrogen supply environment.
Nylon pricing was unfavourable due to tough supply and demand conditions.
Raw material pass-through pricing was unfavourable by 8% as a result of a net cost decrease in benzene and propylene.
Overall sales volume decreased about 1%.

AS is a by-product of AdvanSix’s integrated production process. Benzene and propylene are inputs to cumene, which is a key feedstock for the company's products.

We remind, US integrated nylon producer AdvanSix has ended its alliance with biaxially oriented polyamide (BOPA) film maker Oben Group but will continue to support Oben as a resin supplier. Under the alliance, formed in 2019, Oben took on the role of producing BOPA film while AdvanSix managed its commercialisation and distribution in the US and Canada.