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Business News: July 2024

| By Mary Page Bailey

Plant Watch

Agilyx polystyrene depolymerization plant commissioned in Japan

June 7, 2024 — Agilyx ASA (Tigard, Ore.; announced that its depolymerization technology was successfully demonstrated during commissioning of Toyo Styrene’s 10-ton/d chemical recycling facility in Japan. The recycling plant will convert used polystyrene into a styrene monomer enabled by Agilyx depolymerization technology. The styrene monomer will then be converted back into new polystyrene products. Construction of the facility was completed in March 2024.During the subsequent commissioning phase, polystyrene was successfully depolymerized and converted to on-specification product.


Air Liquide to construct new high-purity gas plant in Idaho

June 6, 2024 — Air Liquide S.A. (Paris, France; will build a new industrial-gas production facility in Idaho to supply semiconductor manufacturer Micron Technology, Inc. The plant will provide large volumes of high-purity industrial gases for the production of memory chips. Air Liquide will invest over $250 million in this state-of-the art production unit. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2025.


Borealis to establish recyclate-based polyolefins compounding line in Belgium

June 6, 2024 — Borealis AG (Vienna, Austria; announced the installation of a semi-commercial demonstration recyclate-based polyolefins (rPO) compounding line in Beringen, Belgium. It is expected to be fully operational in the first half of 2025. The new line will use Borealis’ proprietary technology to transform mechanically recycled post-consumer waste into rigid polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) materials.


Wacker opens new manufacturing site for mRNA active ingredients

June 4, 2024 — Wacker Chemie AG (Munich, Germany; opened a new facility at its biotech site in Halle, Germany that enables the large-scale production of active ingredients based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), such as anti-Covid mRNA vaccines. Wacker invested more than €100 million in this construction project.


BASF inaugurates second dispersions production line in Daya Bay, China

May 30, 2024 — BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; announced the inauguration of its second polymer dispersions production line at the Daya Bay site in Huizhou, China. With this new production capacity, the plant will provide comprehensive support to various industries, including paints, construction, packaging and adhesives.


Mitsui Chemicals to set up mass-production facilities for CNT pellicles

May 28, 2024 — Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo; will set up mass-production facilities at its Iwakuni-Ohtake site for carbon nanotube (CNT) pellicles, which are used to reduce the size and increase the production efficiency of semiconductors. The new plant is expected to be completed in late 2025, with capability to produce 5,000 sheets/yr. Mitsui’s pellicle product is a dustproof photomask cover for the photolithography process used in semiconductor wafer-etching.


Toray to expand fiber production capacities in South Korea

May 28, 2024 — Toray Group (Tokyo, Japan; plans to invest 500 billion won (around $360 million) in the Gumi National Industrial Complex in South Korea by 2025 to expand its production of high-performance carbon fiber, aramid fiber and other materials. This expansion will secure 5,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr) of production capacity for fiber products at the Gumi site.


BASF to increase PA and PBT production capacities in India

May 23, 2024 — BASF India Ltd. will increase the production capacity of its polyamide (PA) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounding plants in Panoli, Gujarat and Thane, Maharashtra. The project involves a capacity increase of over 40% in Panoli and Thane, providing polyurethane for transportation, construction, footwear, appliances and furniture manufacturing. The increased capacity will be available in the second half 2025.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Occidental and BHE Renewables form JV to commercialize DLE technology

June 4, 2024 — Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Houston; and BHE Renewables, a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, formed a joint venture (JV) for the demonstration and deployment of Occidental subsidiary TerraLithium’s Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) and associated technologies to extract and commercially produce high-purity lithium compounds from geothermal brine. BHE Renewables operates 10 geothermal power plants in Imperial Valley, California, which process 50,000 gal/min of lithium-rich brine. The JV has begun a project at BHE Renewables’ Imperial Valley geothermal facility to demonstrate the feasibility of using the DLE technology.


BASF sells its bioenergy enzymes business to Lallemand

June 4, 2024 — BASF sold its bioenergy enzymes business based in San Diego, Calif. to Lallemand’s subsidiaries, Danstar Ferment AG and Lallemand Specialties Inc. This includes the Spartec product portfolio and related technologies in development. Lallemand will integrate the business and associated employees in its Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits (LBDS) business unit.


Wacker acquires Pennsylvania-based biotechnology firm

May 31, 2024 — Wacker Chemie has acquired the manufacturing assets and know-how of Bio Med Sciences Inc. (Allentown, Pa.) to expand its expertise and business in silicone-coated healthcare products. The acquired assets and a majority of the workforce will be part of a new entity called Wacker Silicone Manufactured Innovations LLC (WSMI).


LyondellBasell acquires 35% stake in Saudi Arabia’s NATPET

May 31, 2024 — LyondellBasell Industries N.V. (LYB; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and Alujain Corp. announced completion of the acquisition of a 35% interest in Saudi Arabia–based National Petrochemical Industrial Co. (NATPET) by LYB from Alujain. This move positions LYB to expand its core polypropylene (PP) business by gaining access to advantaged feedstocks. NATPET currently has approximately 400,000 m.t./yr of PP production capacity. Alujain and LYB are also jointly assessing the construction of new propylene via propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and PP facilities at the NATPET site, subject to a final investment decision.


ConocoPhillips to acquire Marathon Oil Corp. for $22.5 billion

May 30, 2024 — ConocoPhillips Co. (Houston; and Marathon Oil Corp. (Houston; announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which ConocoPhillips will acquire Marathon Oil in an all-stock transaction with an enterprise value of $22.5 billion. The transaction is subject to the approval of Marathon Oil stockholders, regulatory clearance and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2024.


DuPont announces plan to separate into three companies

May 23, 2024 — DuPont (Wilmington, Del.; announced a plan to split into three distinct, publicly traded companies. Under the plan, DuPont would execute the proposed separations of its Electronics and Water businesses, with New DuPont continuing as a diversified industrial company comprised of the existing businesses within the Water & Protection segment (excluding Water Solutions), the majority of businesses within Industrial Solutions (including healthcare), and the retained businesses reported in Corporate (including adhesives). These businesses generated net sales of approximately $6.6 billion in 2023. DuPont expects to complete the separations within 18 to 24 months. ■


Mary Page Bailey