September's top stories: Linde's storage solution, self-healing polymer created

The chemicals sector has witnessed new technological developments - Linde has developed a new storage solution to transport hydrogen, while scientists from CIDETEC, Spain, have developed the first self-healing polymer.


Chemicals news

German company develops new hydrogen transport technology

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Industrial gases and engineering company Linde has developed a new storage solution, which will optimise the hydrogen value chain.

The new technology, which works at a higher pressure of 500 bar (7,250 psi), will use new, lighter storage materials to more than double the amount of compressed gaseous hydrogen (CGH2) that can be transported in a single truck load, according to the company.

Linde Clean Energy and Innovation head Dr Andreas Opfermann said the 500-bar technology is another important milestone for hydrogen mobility.

Nigerian firm secures funding for refinery and fertiliser facilities

Dangote Industries (DIL) has signed a $3.3bn loan agreement with a consortium of 12 local and international banks for construction of petroleum oil refinery, petrochemical and fertiliser facilities in Nigeria.

Financed by $3bn equity and $6bn loan capital, the $9bn project will reduce the nation's current volumes of refined fuel imports by approximately 50%, with the refining capacity expected to reach 400,000 barrels of crude oil each day.

The plants are also expected to halt the country's importation of fertiliser and create around 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.

Albemarle to restructure global business units

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US-based specialty chemical firm Albemarle has said it will restructure its global business units, effective from 1 January 2014, to increase customer focus and accelerate growth.

Under the plans, the company intends to align its assets within two global business units (GBUs), which will be known as performance chemicals and catalyst solutions.

The performance chemicals unit will feature fire safety solutions, specialty chemicals and fine chemistry services, as well as consolidate the company's bromine, mineral and custom manufacturing assets under one business unit.

Finland's Kemira acquires Canadian specialty chemicals firm

Finland's chemical company Kemira Oyj has entered into an agreement to purchase Canadian privately-owned specialty chemicals and services supplier Soto Industries.

Headquartered in Vancouver, Soto provides a range of specialty chemicals, such as digester scale control, silicone, oil-based defoamers and polymers, which are used in green liquor clarification and effluent treatment for pulp and papermaking.

Kemira Oyj North America paper segment senior vice president Billy Ford said this acquisition will help the company accelerate its strategic plan and secures its position as a leading supplier to the pulp and paper industry in North America.

Ineos-Sinopec JV constructs Chinese phenol acetone facility

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Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical (YPC) and Ineos Phenol have started construction of a new Phenol and Acetone plant in Nanjing, China.

The new facility, with a total manufacturing capacity of 1.2 million tonnes, will manufacture 400,000 tonnes per year (tpy) of phenol and 250,000 (tpy) of acetone.

The new joint venture (JV) will leverage Sinopec YPC's local feedstock advantages and cumene technology, along with Ineos's proprietary phenol technology.

European Commission to develop robots for container inspections

The European Commission (EC), along with a consortium of ten European companies, has launched the Petrobot project to ensure investigators' safety during the inspection of petrochemical containers.

Funded by the European Union (EU), the project aims to develop robots, which can replace humans in inspections of pressure vessels and storage tanks widely used in oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

Currently petrochemical firms follow a long and costly procedure of shutting down plants, as well as decoupling vessels from live sections of the plant and extensively cleaning them to remove all products that can emit flammable or toxic gases, during inspection.

BASF opens concrete admixture plant in Kazan, Russia

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BASF has opened a concrete admixtures plant in Kazan, Russia, which is the company's second facility in the country since 2012.

The German chemical company manufactures 20 varieties of concrete admixtures, including products based on polycarboxylate ether (PCE) technology.

Admixtures produced at the facility are meant for accelerated concrete curing, with prolonged workability even at low temperatures.

Spanish CIDETEC scientists develop self-healing polymer

Scientists from the Centre for Electrochemical Technologies (CIDETEC) in San Sebastian, Spain, have developed the first self-healing polymer, which can repair itself without any human intervention.

The new 'Terminator' polymer is expected to enhance the lifetime and security of plastic parts used for applications and products in electrical components, cars and houses.

After cutting the material into two separate pieces with a razor blade and allowing it to self-heal, the material is unbreakable when stretched manually, according to the researchers.

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