Additives for Polymers (v.2003, #6)

Akcros Chemicals reports that it has developed a number of new mixed metal stabilizers for use across the range of flexible PVC applications — in suspension and paste resins, and in clear and filled formulations. The stabilizers are produced by means of the company’s proprietary (patent pending) Akcrostab technology. Akcros says this new technology yields stabilizer products with superior properties in a number of areas.

Atofina has launched Plastistrength◐ 700 X on the European market. This new acrylic copolymer, developed as a high-performance process aid for PVC formulations, is said to be particularly suited to rigid PVC packaging applications.

Crompton Corp of Middlebury, CT, has introduced two new vinyl additives for use in the manufacture of PVC pipes and window profiles.

Bayer’s latest flame retardant offering is a phosphorus-based halogen-free material that provides protection at half the loading of comparable products. It is targeted at rigid polyurethane and polyisocyanourate foams, for applications such as building insulation. It can also be used with other thermosets.

Phthalocyanine pigments typically have excellent colour fastness but adversely affect the dimensional stability of injection-moulded parts made of polyolefins. To overcome this problem BASF has developed a ‘low warping’ (LW) phthalocyanine pigment, Heliogen® Blue K 7104 LW. Unlike its predecessors, the new blue demonstrates the minimal warping normally associated with inorganic blue pigments.

Two new effect pigments have been added to Engelhard Corp’s mica-based Lumina family. They are designed to provide higher colour purity and clarity in automotive coatings than traditional pearlescent pigments.

Improved Materials Strategies Inc (IMS) of Houston, TX, reports that it has successfully developed and tested its surface-modified silicon carbide polymer matrix composite (SPMC) additives in polymers and elastomers. Laboratory, dynamic and field testing have shown that the SPMC additives significantly reduce friction and abrasion weight loss without adversely affecting the physical properties of the host material, IMS says. The additives have been tested at load ratings from 1% to 9%, with the optimal load percentage of the additive varying with specific materials and applications.

ICO Polymers has commercially launched two additive packages to protect plastic products from bacterial and algal growth. Both are available in selected grades of the company’s Icorene® rotational moulding powders.

Manufacturer and marketer of petroleum and petrochemical products Sunoco, Inc has signed a letter of intent to sell its plasticizer operations to BASF Corp, subject to the required regulatory approvals. Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed. After the deal is closed, which is expected by the end of the third quarter this year, BASF will combine the Sunoco assets with its current plasticizer business in North America.

Crompton Corp has agreed to sell OSi Specialties, its organosilicones business, to General Electric Co (GE) in exchange for US$645 million in cash and GE’s Specialty Chemicals business, valued at $160 million. OSi will be combined with GE’s existing silicones business, part of GE Specialty Materials. Depending on how the new combined business performs, Crompton will also receive between $105 million and $250 million from GE in the form of quarterly payments for three years after the deal closes. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter.

Albemarle Corp is increasing the price of its NcendX P-30 and Saytex® flame retardants globally from 15 June 2003, or as contracts allow.

For the first three months of 2003, Ciba Specialty Chemicals maintained its net income in Swiss francs at CHF108 million, the same level as the first quarter of 2002, despite negative currency effects and volatile market conditions. Compared to the preceding fourth quarter of 2002 results improved, the company reports. Overall, sales increased 5% in local currencies during the first quarter of 2003, while volume growth was 8%. Sales growth was strongest in the Asia-Pacific. During the period, the Swiss franc appreciated sharply against most major trading currencies resulting in sales in Swiss francs being 7% lower at CHF 1.678 billion than the same period last year. Compared to the first quarter of 2002, operating income in local currencies rose 17% and EBITDA was 11% higher.

Albemarle Corp reported first-quarter 2003 net income of US$21.0 million, up substantially from $16.8 million for the first three months of 2002. On a period-to-period comparison, the first-quarter operating results for 2003 reflect higher sales volumes, reduced manufacturing fixed costs and the positive effects of foreign exchange, offset by higher energy and raw materials costs and lower pricing in certain businesses.

Clariant Masterbatches Division has announced the acquisition of Quality Colour, a leading Canadian supplier of colour and additive concentrates and precoloured compounds to the plastics industry. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Located in Delta, British Columbia, Quality Colour was founded in 1991 and currently employs 40 people in its 41 000 ft2 (3800 m2) facility, which has an annual production capacity of 1500 tons.

Cytec Industries Inc achieved net earnings for the first quarter of 2003 of US$15.3 million on sales of $367 million. For the comparable period of 2002, net earnings were $7.0 million on sales of $318 million. Raw material, energy and freight costs increased for the quarter but were offset by favourable currency exchange rates and a lower effective tax rate.

Ferro Corp has posted a 10.1% increase in 2003 first quarter sales from continuing operations to US$401.8 million, compared with $365.0 million in the first quarter of 2002. Increased sales resulted from the favourable currency exchange impact of the Euro, higher volumes in several key end markets and increased product prices implemented to offset rising raw material costs, the company says. Income from continuing operations increased more than 90% in the quarter to $9.5 million, compared with $4.9 million for the same three month period in 2002. The company reports that most of its end markets have rebounded after a very soft fourth quarter 2002.

Bayer is working on improving its Mesamoll plasticizer range with the development of a new low-haze grade. The company already has two grades of the alkylsulphonate ester-based plasticizer — the standard grade and a ‘low volatility’ grade. With the new grade, Bayer says it expects to improve haze performance by reducing the Hazen colour number from 300 to around 100, and to reduce the phenol content from 14 ppm to around 10 ppm. A purification plant is being built to produce the grade. According to PRW.com, Bayer plans to run the first trials of the product at the end of May and hopes to start production in September.

Altair Nanotechnologies Inc reports that it has successfully produced the first kilogram quantities of titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment base using its advanced hydrochloride process. To date several pigment companies have been sampled with this material. While not all testing has yet been completed, company president Rudi Moerck says results to date are “extremely positive”. “We are interested in supplying kilogram samples to other pigment companies at no cost provided they share testing data with Altair”, he adds.

Eliokem is planning to build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in China to meet growing demand for its Wingstay L antioxidant in Asia. The plant will be located in the Ningbo Economic & Technical Development Zone (just outside Shanghai), and is expected to be in full production by the third quarter of 2004. Wingstay antioxidants are widely used to protect plastics, latices and natural-rubber-based articles against heat and oxidative degradation.

Cytec Industries Inc has appointed Shane D. Fleming to the position of president of Cytec Specialty Chemicals, effective immediately. Fleming will have responsibility for leading the growth of Cytec’s specialty chemicals business, which includes the company’s polymer and rubber additives product offerings, and driving profit improvement initiatives within the business. He will report to David Lilley, Cytec’s chairman, president and CEO.

Germany’s Nabaltec GmbH is increasing its production capacity of fine precipitated aluminium hydrates by 10 000 tonnes per annum. The additional capacity is expected to be available by mid 2003. Fine precipitated hydrates are used primarily as halogen-free flame retardant fillers in the wire and cable industry. Nabaltec currently produces about 70 000 tonnes of aluminium hydroxide/alumina trihydrate (ATH) annually, with over 50% being used as flame-retardant fillers. The company anticipates growth rates of 4–6% in this area as aluminium hydroxide is increasingly used due to environmental demands for halogen-free flame retardant mineral fillers.

Sasol is constructing a second 1-octene production plant at its Secunda site in South Africa to meet growing global demands from plastics manufacturers. The new multi-million dollar plant, which is expected to come on-stream by the end of 2004, will produce 48 000 tons/year of 1-octene, pushing overall annual capacity to 96 000 tons, double existing output, says Sasol chief executive Pieter Cox. The two plants are operated by Sasol Olefins and Surfactants, which forms part of Sasol Chemical Industries, and first delivery from the new plant is expected to reach global customers by January 2005.

Agilent Technologies Inc has devised a method based on advanced chromatography that allows rapid identification of antioxidant additives and their degradation products in plastics formulations. The company believes this will aid in developing plastic products with better performance.