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Business News – April 2019

By Mary Page Bailey |

Plant Watch

Asahi Kasei plans LIB separator capacity expansions

March 14, 2019 — Asahi Kasei Corp. (Tokyo, Japan; www.asahi-kasei.co.jp) will enhance its manufacturing infrastructure for lithium-ion battery (LIB) separator products at the company’s existing facilities in Moriyama, Japan and North Carolina, with completion scheduled for 2021. The investment for this project is around¥30 billion ($270 million). This expansion will result in a 300 million-m 2 /yr rise in wet-process capacity and a 150 million-m 2 /yr rise in dry-process capacity.

Outotec to construct sulfuric acid plant in Morocco

March 13, 2019 — Outotec Oyj (Espoo, Finland; www.outotec.com) signed a contract with OCP Group in Morocco for the construction of a sulfuric acid plant for fertilizer production. The €80-million order includes advanced proprietary technologies, including a heat-recovery system, as well as a converter, absorption towers and an acid-distribution system.


Invista signs first Middle East technology license for purified terephthalic acid

March 12, 2019 — Invista (Wichita, Kan.; www.invista.com) and Pan-Asia PET Resin (Guangzhou) Co. reached an agreement for the licensing of Invista’s purified terephthalic acid (PTA) process technology at a new plant to be located in Jizan Economic City, Saudi Arabia. The planned PTA production capacity is 1.25 million metric tons per year (m.t./yr). This project signifies Invista’s first technology license in the Middle East.


Celanese to increase production capacity for thermoplastic co-polyester in Italy

March 6, 2019 — Celanese Corp. (Dallas, Tex.; www.celanese.com) plans to expand its thermoplastic co-polyester production unit at the Donegani facility in Ferrara, Italy. Celanese recently added a solid-state polymerization unit at the Donegani facility, which started up in September 2018. Celanese expects to further expand the unit’s capacity by adding another polymerization line to be completed in the next 15 to 18 months.


Mitsui to construct plant for long glass-fiber-reinforced polypropylene in China

March 1, 2019 — Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (MCI; Tokyo; www.mitsuichem.com) will set up a new facility to produce 3,500 m.t./yr of long glass-fiber-reinforced polypropylene (LGFPP) at Chinese manufacturing subsidiary Mitsui Advanced Composites (Zhongshan) Co., which will join existing LGFPP sites in Japan and the U.S. When the new facility commences operations in September 2020, MCI’s total production capacity for LGFPP will increase to 10,500 m.t./yr.


ExxonMobil moves forward with construction of Baton Rouge PP plant

March 1, 2019 — ExxonMobil Corp. (Irving, Tex.; www.exxonmobil.com) will fund the construction of a new polypropylene (PP) unit in Baton Rouge, La., which will expand production capacity along the Gulf Coast by up to 450,000 m.t./yr. Construction will begin in 2019 and startup is anticipated by 2021.


Ineos to build new vinyl acetate monomer plant in the U.K.

February 27, 2019 — INEOS (London; www.ineos.com) will invest£150 million in Hull, U.K. to construct a new vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant. The capacity at the site is expected to be 300,000 m.t./yr of VAM, a key component in glass, adhesives, coatings, films and more.


Air Liquide to construct world’s largest proton-exchange membrane electrolyzer

February 25, 2019 — Air Liquide (Paris; www.airliquide.com) plans to construct the largest proton-exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer in the world, with a 20-MW capacity for the production of carbon-free hydrogen. Air Liquide will install the 20-MW electrolyzer unit to increase the current capacity of its hydrogen facility located in Bécancour, Canada by 50%.


Solvay to boost soda ash productivity with expansion; new biomass boiler

February 25, 2019 — In the next two years, Solvay S.A. (Brussels, Belgium; www.solvay.com) plans to undergo several measures to increase production capacity of soda ash by 500,000 m.t./yr and of sodium bicarbonate by 100,000 m.t./yr. Solvay is also investing in a new biomass boiler at its soda ash plant in Rheinberg, Germany, which will lower CO 2 emissions by 190,000 m.t./yr when the boiler comes onstream in May 2021.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Axens and ExxonMobil sign alkylation alliance agreement

March 12, 2019 — ExxonMobil and Axens (Rueill-Malmaison, France; www.axens.net) have signed an alliance agreement for the sublicense of ExxonMobil’s Sulfuric Acid Alkylation technology. Under the agreement, Axens and ExxonMobil will market and deliver all technologies associated within a petroleum-refinery alkylation block, including Axens’ feed preparation process, n-butane isomerization and ExxonMobil’s Sulfuric Acid Alkylation. The technologies will be offered under a single license to be provided by Axens.

Evonik to sell its Methacrylates business for €3 billion

March 5, 2019 — Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; www.evonik.com) has signed an agreement to sell its Methacrylates business to Advent International (Boston, Mass.; www.adventinternational.com) for €3 billion. The transaction comprises the Methacrylates, Acrylic Products and CyPlus business lines and some of the methacrylate resins activities, as well as 18 global production sites.


BP, Virent and Johnson Matthey partner on production of bio-based PX

March 5, 2019 — BP (London; www.bp.com), Virent Inc. (Madison, Wis.; www.virent.com) and Johnson Matthey (London; www.matthey.com) have signed an agreement that will further advance the commercialization of Virent’s Bioforming process for production of bio-based p-xylene (PX), a key raw material for the production of renewable polyester. BP will contribute technical resources and has exclusive rights to negotiate becoming the sole manufacturer of bio-PX using Virent’s technology.


Axens acquires a stake in biogas specialist Arol Energy

March 5, 2019 — Axens has taken an equity interest in Arol Energy (Le Bourget-du-Lac, France; www.arol-energy.com), an expert in biogas purification systems. The company’s products and services are designed for entities involved in biogas production from urban or agricultural waste.


Messer and CVC finalize acquisition of selected Linde and Praxair assets

March 3, 2019 — Messer Group GmbH (Bad Soden, Germany; www.messergroup.com) acquired the majority of Linde AG’s (Munich, Germany; www.linde.com) gases business in North America and certain Linde and Praxair (Danbury, Conn.; www.praxair.com) business activities in South America, in a joint venture (JV) with CVC Capital Partners Fund VII (CVC). The JV — called Messer Industries GmbH — is investing a total of around $3.6 billion (€3.2 billion). Messer is contributing the majority of its Western European companies to the JV.


Matheson completes acquisition of Linde’s HyCO business in the U.S.

March 1, 2019 — Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. (Bernards Township, N.J.; www.mathesongas.com) has completed its acquisition of the divested Linde HyCO business in the U.S., which produces H 2, CO and syngas. The business became available due to the global business combination of Linde and Praxair. The HyCO business includes a remote operations center in LaPorte, Tex. that supports plants in Alabama, Illinois, Ohio and Washington.


Total acquires French plastics recycler Synova

Total S.A. (Paris, France; www.total.com) has acquired Synova, a France-based manufacturer of high-performance recycled polypropylene for the automotive sector. Synova currently produces 20,000 m.t./yr of polypropylene from recycled plastics. ■


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