US: Nova starts up LLDPE plant; Braskem its UHMWPE plant and Arkema upgrades acrylics site


With the US to inaugurate its new President, one who campaigned to bring back jobs to the country, companies that have invested in the country are starting up plants. Canada’s Nova Chemicals Corporation has started up its new world-scale linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) gas phase reactor at its Joffre, Alberta site. The new reactor started up in December 2016, and the company is now shipping butene LLDPE produced on the asset to its customers.

This is the first new LLDPE reactor in the Americas in over a decade. The new capacity allows Nova Chemicals to meet the growing demand for flexible films used in food packaging, heavy-duty sack and can liners.

“The new supply of LLDPE from our PE1 Expansion Project will enhance Nova Chemicals’ position as a leading polyethylene supplier in the Americas, helping our customers grow and succeed in their businesses,” said Senior Vice President, Polyethylene Business Chris Bezaire.

The addition of this reactor increases Nova Chemicals’ LLDPE production capacity by close to 455,000 tonnes, giving the company total polyethylene production capacity of approximately 2.5 million tonnes. Nova Chemicals’ says its butene LLDPE is already known in the industry for a range of benefits including excellent balance of physical properties, product uniformity and consistency, and best-in-class gel performance.

Elsewhere, Brazilian producer Braskem, the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas, has started up the operation of its new Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) In La Porte, Texas. Marketed under the Utec brand, Braskem's high performance UHMWPE was developed and produced using proprietary technologies from the company.

"With the start of the plant, Braskem substantially strengthens its position, developing and producing advanced Utec polymer applications to meet the needs of our customers and their respective end customers,” said Christopher Gee, Braskem's Utec Global Business Director.

The new Utec plant will enable Braskem to better serve its customers in North America and also in Europe through exports.

Braskem America has 700 staff and is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Braskem and has six industrial units: four in Texas (La Porte, Oyster Creek and Seadrift), one in Pennsylvania (Marcus Hook) and one In West Virginia (Kenova). In addition, its Innovation & Technology Centre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, helps strengthen the partnership between Braskem and its customers in North America.

In mid-2016, Braskem announced improvements to its Pittsburgh Innovation and Technology Centre by increasing research and development capacity at UHMWPE to support the launch of Utec production in the US.

Braskem says its Utec polymer has excellent mechanical properties, such as high abrasion resistance, impact resistance and low coefficient of friction. Self-lubricating, the polymer has high strength and low weight, besides being machinable, with application in semi-finished products.

It also says the Utec resin is eight times lighter than steel and ten times more durable than high density polyethylene (HDPE). Its diverse applications cover sectors such as automotive and transportation, electronics, fiber and textiles, industrial and heavy machinery, material handling, oil and gas, pipelines and mining, porous plastics, recreation and for the final consumer.

Meanwhile, French chemicals firm Arkema is investing US$90 million on its Clear Lake Texas Arkema site to replace existing acrylic acid production units with modern facilities using the latest available technologies. Thus,Arkema will position the Clear Lake site among the most competitive in North America while meeting growing demand in the region.

As part of its operational excellence program, Arkema has launched a project which will replace two 45kt/year acrylic acid reactors at the end of their life with a single 90 kt/year reactor at its Clear Lake site. This investment will introduce new competitive, state-of-the-art manufacturing assets using the latest production technologies available.

The new unit is expected to come on stream by mid-2019. At completion of this program, Clear Lake's total acrylic acid production capacity will be 270 kt/year.

In the meantime, Arkema will continue to meet customer demand from its American plants, which benefited from a previous modernisation program between 2012 and 2014, as well as its European and Asian plants.

With this investment Arkema confirms its position as the number two producer of acrylic acid in North America, and its strong position to meet the growing demand in markets such as superabsorbents, coatings and adhesives, polymers for water treatment, and enhanced oil and gas recovery.


Copyright (c) 2017 www.plasticsandrubberasia.com. All rights reserved.