April’s top stories: Shintech’s $1.4bn ethylene project, crystals breakthrough

Shintech plans to build $1.4bn ethylene production plant in Louisiana, US, Lancaster University chemists achieved breakthrough to study formation of crystals, and Showa Denko finalises deal to sell phenolic resin business. Chemicals-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from April 2015.


Lancaster University chemists achieve breakthrough to study formation of crystals


Chemists at Lancaster University in the UK achieved a breakthrough in understanding the way crystals develop, which could support efficient development of chemical products.

The Crystal Nuclei Breeding Factory is said to have a major impact for the pharmaceutical, chemical and food segments.

Several attempts so far to study how new crystals are formed were unsuccessful as microscopes lacked capability to evaluate the behaviour of molecules, chemists said.

Showa Denko to sell phenolic resin business to Aica Kogyo

Japanese chemical engineering firm Showa Denko (SDK) finalised a deal to sell its phenolic resin business to Aica Kogyo.

The company offers resin products in various formats, including liquid, lumps, powder, and grains, for use in electronic materials, housing equipment and paints.

The phenolic resin business generated revenues of JPY4bn ($33.6m) last year.

Tronox closes $1.64bn acquisition of FMC's Alkali Chemicals business


Tronox completed the acquisition of FMC's Alkali Chemicals division in a $1.64bn deal.

The company signed a deal with FMC for the acquisition in February this year.

FMC's Alkali Chemicals unit produces natural soda ash for glass manufacturing, water treatment, pulp and paper, textiles, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. It operates mining and processing facilities in Green River, Wyoming, US.

Following the acquisition, Tronox will operate two inorganic minerals businesses, which include Tronox Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) and Tronox Alkali.

Shintech to build $1.4bn ethylene production plant in Louisiana, US

Shin-Etsu Chemical's US subsidiary Shintech announced plans to invest $1.4bn to build an ethylene production plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana, US.

Claimed to be the first ethylene plant built in the US by a Japanese chemical firm, the plant will have the capacity to produce 500,000t of ethylene per year.

Toyo Engineering has been contracted to oversee construction of the plant, which is expected to be complete in the first half of 2018.

Lummus Technology will be responsible for providing the ethylene process technologies.

Lanxess begins production at new EPDM plant in China


German chemicals firm Lanxess started production at its new ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) plant in Changzhou, China.

With the gradual ramp-up of the new plant, the company completes its global EPDM rubber asset base.

Over the next few months, the company will be running sampling and approbation processes with customers.

With a production capacity of 160,000t per year, the new plant will produce in ten premium grades of EPDM to meet demand from Chinese and Asian customers.

Jacobs buys majority stake in Suzhou Han's Chemical Engineering in China

Jacobs Projects (Shanghai) purchased a majority stake in China-based Suzhou Han's Chemical Engineering (SHCE).

SHCE owns two speciality class A design licenses in chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical (CPP) industry in China.

The company provides engineering design, procurement and project management services for a wide range of chemical projects in China.

With this acquisition, Jacobs will be able to strengthen its capabilities in China through class A design licenses.

University of Tokyo researchers create synthetic technology to produce fine chemicals


A research group at the University of Tokyo developed active immobilised catalysts to synthesise pharmaceutical and fine chemicals.

In an eight-step continuous flow reaction, the team used multiple column reactors with immobilised catalysts to synthesise (R) and (S) rolipram, an active component of a medicine.

The catalysed flow fine synthesis method is said to eliminate the need of isolation or purification of intermediates and purification of products from catalysts, consuming a lower amount of energy.

The team said that the technology can also be used to produce aminobutyric acids and medicines, as well as chemicals, including flavours, agricultural chemicals, and functional materials.

FMC acquires Cheminova for $1.8bn

US-based FMC completed the acquisition of Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries for $1.8bn, including debt.

Initially announced in September 2014, the acquisition is part of the company's strategy to focus on agriculture, health and nutrition end segments.

FMC president, CEO and chairman Pierre Brondeau said: "Cheminova has a highly complementary product portfolio and geographic footprint and follows a similar strategic approach to FMC in applying technology to deliver solutions to its customers.

"This transaction will broaden our Agricultural Solutions portfolio and significantly strengthen our market access."

Clariant opens desiccant manufacturing plant in Zhengjiang


Swiss speciality chemicals firm Clariant opened a new desiccant manufacturing plant at its site in Zhengjiang, China, for products in the food protection market.

At the new facility, the company will produce its line of Container Dri II products alongside a full range of desiccant bags extending its existing regional support for the Asian market.

Container Dri II, the company's specially designed cargo desiccants are aimed at protecting goods from the harmful effects of moisture and water damage during shipping via container, rail barge or truck.

These products play a major role in preserving edible cargo and other sensitive goods during long transport across different climate zones, the company said.

Solvay begins the building of silica production facility in South Korea

Solvay silica

Solvay started construction on a highly dispersible silica (HDS) production facility in Gunsan, South Korea.

The project is part of the company's strategy to develop innovative HDS grades, and meet the increasing demand for energy saving tires.

Planned to start operations within two years, the facility will produce more than 80,000t of silica.