July’s top stories: CF Industries-OCI possible merger, BASF pigments unit separation

CF Industries in advanced talks to merge with Amsterdam-listed chemical company OCI, Platform Specialty Products makes $2.3bn offer to acquire UK-listed Alent, BASF to separate its pigments activities into a new global business unit (GBU), effective January 2016, Chemicals-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from July 2015.


BASF to separate pigments business


BASF is planning to separate its pigments activities into a new global business unit (GBU), effective January 2016.

The pigments unit caters to various industries, including paints and coatings, printing, and packaging and plastics.

It produces a wide range of colour pigments, including phthalocyanines, high-performance pigments, azo pigments, effect pigments, inorganic pigments, dyes, and pigment preparations.

The division recorded revenues of €1bn last year, and has a workforce of 2,500.

Hanwha Chemical merges two chemical compounds businesses in South Korea

South Korea-based Hanwha Chemical merged two of its chemical compounds businesses, Hanwha Next and Hanwha Compound.

The combined entity, named Hanwha Compound, will produce polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.

The company will operate manufacturing plants in Yeosu and Suncheon, with an annual capacity of 100,000t.

Ineos building ethane tank at Grangemouth petrochemical complex in Scotland

Grangemouth roof

Ineos installed a roof that covers Europe's largest ethane storage tank at its petrochemical complex in Grangemouth, Scotland.

The company used four low-pressure fans to install the 330t roof into its final position.

The tank is 56m in diameter and 44m in height. It is designed to accommodate 60,000m³ ofethane gas, to be imported from the US for use as a raw material for the company's chemicals plants.

Saint-Gobain receives EC approval for acquisition of controlling stake in Sika

French firm Saint-Gobain secured approval from the European Commission (EC) for its proposed acquisition of a controlling stake in Swiss chemicals firm Sika.

Sika produces speciality chemicals and mortars for the construction segment, as well as sealants and other chemicals, such as adhesives used in the automotive industry.

The EC said that both companies are engaged in mortars for construction, certain construction chemicals, and other chemicals products.

Platform Specialty to buy UK-based Alent for $2.3bn

Platform Specialty Products made a $2.3bn offer to acquire UK-listed speciality chemicals producer Alent.

The offer of $7.83 per share is a 49% premium to Alent's closing price on 10 July.

If a deal is finalised, Alent shareholders will have a partial share alternative to receive Platform common stock, instead of the cash they are entitled to under the transaction.

Alent supplies speciality chemicals and engineered materials for electronics, automotive and industrial applications.

BASF and Petronas to build highly reactive polyisobutene production plant in Malaysia


BASF and Petronas Chemicals (PCG) unveiled plans to build a highly reactive polyisobutene (HR-PIB) production plant in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Planned to be built at BASF PETRONAS Chemicals, the facility is said to be the first of its kind in south-east Asia.

The project will provide BASF with a secure supply of HR-PIB to serve the demand in the Asian market, and strengthen its global footprint as one of the leading suppliers of this product.

CF Industries in talks to merge with Dutch firm OCI

US fertiliser-maker CF Industries is reportedly in advanced talks to merge with Amsterdam-listed chemical company OCI.

OCI produces natural-gas-based fertilisers and industrial chemicals, and operates production facilities in the Netherlands, Egypt, Algeria, and the US.

In 2014, the company recorded revenues of $2.7bn with $329m net income. OCI had a market value of €5.7bn on 17 July.

US and Netherlands researchers identify chemical transformations in zeolites

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), UOP, and Netherlands-based Utrecht University found a way to understand chemical transformations occurring within zeolites.

Zeolites are crystalline solid structures made up of aluminium, silicon, and oxygen atoms, and are used to convert oil to gasoline. They are also used as catalysts to process petroleum and chemicals.

The new technique allows the identification of the spots where chemical reactions occur, and how these spots shut down.

DIC to build polyphenylene sulphide technical facility in Germany


Japanese printing inks producer DIC is planning to build a polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) technical facility in Karlstein, Germany.

Called the European PPS Technical Center, the new facility will allow the company to address the technical requirements of its European customers.

Planned to be built on site occupied by Sun Chemical's Eurolab, the technical centre is scheduled to commence operations in November 2015, while analysis-related operations will begin in September 2015.

Solvay and INEOS launch Inovyn chlorvinyls joint venture

Solvay and INEOS started their chlorovinyls joint-venture (JV), called Inovyn, following approval from the European Commission (EC).

The companies have signed a letter of intent to combine their European chlorvinyls activities, to create a leading PVC production company. A definitive agreement for the JV was signed in June last year.

The EC also approved the sale of Ineos' businesses to International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG), clearing the way to start-up the JV.

Fraunhofer researchers say metal-encapsulated particles help accelerate chemical reactions

encapsulated material

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Society of Germany found that metal-encapsulated cylindrical filler particles help accelerate industrial processes to produce chemical feedstock.

Packing materials are usually used as catalytic support or adsorbents in chemical reactors and heat storage systems.

The efficient heat generation from these materials will drive a process to produce the desired results.

The team said that the millimetre-scale particles generally prevent heat from being conducted optimally throughout the packed bed, forcing chemical companies to build special heat-conducting structures into their reactors.