February's top stories: Ineos and Sinopec form JV, Asahi Kasei to optimise operations

Ineos Phenol signed a JV with Sinopec YPC to build China's largest phenol and acetone plant; Asahi Kasei will optimise petrochemical operations in Japan; and the US EPA finalised a $36.5m cleanup plan at LCP Chemicals' old chlorine plant in New Jersey. Chemicals Technology wraps up the top stories from February 2014.


Styron

Ineos and Sinopec form JV to build phenol acetone plant in China

Ineos Phenol signed a joint-venture (JV) agreement and the articles of association with Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Company (Sinopec YPC) to establish a 50/50 JV company in Nanjing, China.

The JV will be called INEOS YPC Phenol with a total investment of RMB3.15bn ($0.5bn) and will be operational by the end of 2016.

INEOS YPC Phenol will build China's largest phenol and acetone plant, which will be based on Ineos's proprietary phenol technology and Sinopec's proprietary cumene technology, and will promote the upgrade of the chemical industry in Nanjing.

Styron to acquire JSR's SSBR production capacity rights in Germany

Styron

Global materials company Styron agreed to acquire JSR's production capacity rights for solution-polymerised styrene-butadiene rubber (SSBR) at its Schkopau site in Germany.

JSR acquired the capacity rights in 2007 to produce 30,000t of SSBR from Styron and started to supply the product to the European tire market.

Styron's Schkopau production site currently hosts eight rubber trains that supply tire customers around the world.

The agreement allows Styron to have full capacity rights to the train effective 1 April, enabling the company to increase its capabilities to serve the global tire market.

Asahi Kasei to optimise Japanese petrochemical operations

Asahi Kasei, Asahi Kasei Chemicals and Asahi Kasei E-materials decided to optimise their petrochemical operations in Japan.

As part of the optimisation, the Asahi Kasei Group will focus on expanding production capacity of acrylonitrile (AN) and solution-polymerised styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR) for fuel-efficient tires overseas, primarily in Asia.

According to the group, the operating climate in the domestic Japanese petrochemical market is expected to be challenging with fall in demand and severe competition from low-priced imports.

EPA finalises plan to clean up LCP Chemicals site in New Jersey

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalised its $36.5m cleanup plan at the 26-acre site of LCP Chemicals' old chlorine plant in New Jersey, which was contaminated with mercury and other pollutants from earlier industrial activities.

As part of the plan, contaminated buildings on the site will be demolished, while porous building material that has visible signs of contamination will be treated with sulfur.

In addition, contaminated soil will be capped with a layer of sulfur beneath a geosynthetic membrane that will convert the mercury into mercury sulfide, a form of mercury that does not turn into vapour or dissolve.

Dow produces first STYROFOAM with new PolyFR technology

Dow Building Solutions' joint-venture Dow Kakoh produced its first STYROFOAM extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam with new polymeric flame retardant (PolyFR) technology in Japan.

Dow Chemical Company subsidiary Dow Building Solutions has converted three Japan-based STYROFOAM XPS foam plants to PolyFR as part of a phased approach, which will see the conversion all of its plants in North America, Europe and the Middle East to the new technology.

Dow introduced the PolyFR technology in 2011, which is said to be a stable, high-molecular weight, non- persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (non-PBT) additive offering a fire-safety solution for XPS and EPS foams.

Showa Denko increases high-purity ammonia production capacity in China

Showa Denko

Japanese chemical engineering firm Showa Denko (SDK) increased the production capacity for high-purity ammonia at its manufacturing facility in Zhejiang province, China.

The company increased its capacity from 1,000t/y to 2,000t/y at Zhejiang Quzhou Juhua Showa Electronic Chemical Materials, which will strengthen its supply system to meet the growing demand for high-purity ammonia in East Asia.

SDK now has a total high-purity ammonia production capacity of 6,000t/y, following the capacity expansion in China.

Solvay to increase natural soda ash production capacity in US

Solvay

Belgian chemical firm Solvay announced plans to increase its annual production capacity of natural soda ash at its Green River plant in Wyoming, US, by 150,000t in early 2015.

The company said the capacity expansion will meet demand from US export markets.

Solvay has already started construction works to expand production capacity at its Green River trona mine.

After expansion, the mine will produce over two million tonnes per year of soda ash.

Maire Tecnimont-led consortium to build new Cameroonian hydrocracker complex

The consortium between some of Maire Tecnimont's subsidiaries and the Turkey-based Ustay received a contract for the Societè Nationale de Raffinage (Sonara) phase 2 expansion project in Cameroon.

The project aims to construct a new hydrocracker complex in the refinery of Limbè in the south-west of the country and improve the quality of the refined products, as well as increase the overall flexibility of the plants.

Of the $715m contract, Maire Tecnimont Group has a stake of 86% (approximately $612m) and Ustay 14%.

As part of the contract, Italy-based Maire Tecnimont will provide engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services for the whole project, while Ustay will carry out a portion of the construction activities.