April's top stories: LABIX’s Alkylbenzene output, Yara boosts fertiliser capacity

LABIX started linear Alkylbenzene production in Thailand, and Yara International is planning to invest $275m to expand its Rio Grande fertiliser plant. Chemicals-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from April 2016.


LABIX starts linear Alkylbenzene production in Thailand

LABIX Company, a joint venture between Japan-based Mitsui and a fully-owned subsidiary of Thai Oil PublicCompany, started production at its linear alkylbenzene (LAB) plant located in Si Racha, Chonburi Province, Thailand.

With the plant, which has 100,000t per year capacity, Thai Oil petrochemical is claimed to have become the first integrated LAB producing company in Southeast Asia.

LAB is used to produce detergents as a petroleum-derived raw material, and the increasing demand for detergents and LAB in Southeast Asia is projected to increase as population levels rise.

Yara International to double Rio Grande fertiliser plant capacity in Brazil

Norwegian chemical firm Yara International announced plans to invest $275m to expand and modernise its Rio Grande fertiliser plant in Brazil.

The facility is strategically located in southern Brazil, a key region in the country's growing agricultural industry.

The expansion, set for completion in 2020, is expected to create one of the most modern fertiliser sites in the Americas.

Umicore to invest €160m to expand capacity of NMC cathode materials

Belgian materials technology firm Umicore revealed plans to expand its production capacity for nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cathode materials in China and South Korea.

The expansion will involve an investment of €160m over a period of three years at the company's existing facilities at Cheonan, South Korea; and Jiangmen, China, as well as new investments on land adjacent to the facilities in both locations.

According to the company, the capacity expansion is required to meet a surge in demand for materials used in hybrid and electric vehicles.

AkzoNobel and Atul to establish monochloro acetic acid JV in India


Dutch firm AkzoNobel and India-based Atul, a Lalbhai Group company, signed an agreement to establish a manufacturing joint venture (JV) for production of monochloro acetic acid (MCA), a key raw material for crop protection and other chemicals.

Under the deal, the companies plan to install a MCA plant at Atul's facility in Gujarat, subject to the regulatory approvals.

Akzo Nobel, a producer MCA, has plants in the Netherlands, China, Japan and the US.

Solenis agrees to buy two Dutch specialty chemical firms

Solenis signed an agreement to acquire shares in two Netherlands-based companies Lostris International and Wester Blend, which are focused on supplying specialty chemicals to the pulp and tissue and towel markets.

Subject to receipt of customary regulatory approvals in Germany, the transaction is expected to be complete in the second quarter of this year.

Lostris is focused on producing defoamer formulations, pitch dispersants and scale control chemistries for the pulp market.

CF Industries starts up new UAN plant at Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex, US

CF Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of nitrogen products, started up a new urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) plant at the company's Nitrogen Complex in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, US.

Set up as part of the company's major capacity expansion projects in North America, it is the second new plant that has the capacity to produce more than 80,000t of UAN.

Claimed to be the largest single-train UAN plant in the world, the new plant has brought the total annual UAN production capacity at Donaldsonville site to 4.2 million tonnes, up from the previous 2.4 million.

Grace agrees to buy BASF polyolefin catalysts business


US-based W.R. Grace entered an agreement to acquire the polyolefin catalysts business of German chemical group BASF for an undisclosed amount.

Pending regulatory approvals, required consultations with employee representatives, and other customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to be closed in the third quarter of this year. Both companies have not disclosed the deal's terms.

Currently, the polyolefin catalysts business is part of BASF's Catalysts division.

Praxair gets Canadian approval for sale of Noxivent nitric oxide

Praxair Canada secured approval for the sale of its Noxivent brand of inhaled nitric oxide.

Earlier this year, Praxair acquired NOxBOX, a company that specialises in the manufacture of inhaled gas delivery and monitoring instruments for the medical market.

Praxair Canada's Noxivent inhaled nitric oxide, in conjunction with ventilatory support and other appropriate agents, is indicated to treat term and late pre-term (=34 weeks) neonates with hypoxic respiratory failure associated with clinical or echocardiographic evidence of pulmonary hypertension.