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Business Roundup

March 7, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 10

ExxonMobil and Saudi Basic Industries have started front-end engineering and design for their proposed elastomers project in Saudi Arabia. The partners plan 400,000 metric tons of annual capacity for carbon black and various elastomers. Instead of plants in Yanbu and Jubail as originally envisioned, the firms will build only in Jubail.

BASF plans to build a 60,000-metric-ton-per-year sodium methylate plant in Rosario, Argentina. Sodium methylate is a catalyst used to transform fatty acids into biodiesel. BASF’s first South American sodium methylate plant, in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, is expected to open by the end of this year.

Oxea will expand capacity for specialty esters at its plant in Oberhausen, Germany, by 40%. The project will be completed later this year. The firm says it is also evaluating an additional ester facility in Oberhausen.

Invista will go ahead with a project to build what it says will be Asia’s first integrated nylon 6,6 intermediates and polymers complex. The company had postponed the project, at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park, after the global financial crisis got under way. It now expects the complex to open in 2014.

Dow Chemical says it will invest $100 million in projects that will reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The company estimates that its energy efficiency efforts from 1994 to 2010 have saved 1,800 trillion Btu, enough to power all residential buildings in California for more than 18 months.

Evonik Industries is expanding polyether ether ketone (PEEK) capacity in Changchun, China, by the third quarter of this year. PEEK is a high-performance polymer used in aerospace, electronics, and other demanding applications.

Thermo Fisher Scientific will set up a plant in Suzhou, China, to produce laboratory instruments, equipment, and consumables. The company expects the facility to come on-line in 2012.

Ashta Chemicals has been sold by Baxter Associates to Bigshire Mexico. At its plant in Ashtabula, Ohio, Ashta manufactures chlorine, potassium hydroxide, potassium carbonate, and chloropicrin. It had sales last year of about $100 million.

Merck & Co. will work with Lycera to develop small molecules that target T helper 17 cells, thought to be key mediators of inflammation. The pact will focus on autoimmune diseases. Lycera, based in Plymouth, Mich., will get $12 million in cash, “significant” research funding, and up to $295 million in milestone payments.



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