Additives for Polymers (v.2007, #8)

Albemarle subsidiary Martinswerk is launching a new thermally stable aluminium trihydrate (ATH). Martinal® TS-702 is a finely precipitated ATH developed primarily as a fire-retardant additive for halogen-free epoxy-based laminates for printed circuit boards. However, the company says it is also of interest for application areas with processing temperatures close to the decomposition of standard ATH.

Chicago-based HallStar Company, formerly known as CPH Holding [ADPO, July 2007], recently introduced several new polymer additives for industrial applications. The new products include low-polarity polymer modifier LPPM RX-13804 and the Paraplex® LS light-stabilizing system.

Korea's Songwon Industrial Co, Ltd has announced the introduction of a series of new additive products specifically designed for the polyolefins and compounding markets. The new products are commercially available for immediate shipment and will be showcased atK 2007 in October.

GE Plastics (GEP) has developed a new range of LNP Verton long glass fibre compounds that combine additives and effects in one pellet. The company says this helps processors solve the drawbacks of dry-blending colorants, flame retardants, additives and other effects in these compounds; by eliminating the need for two pellet types, which can lead to separation, settling and other quality issues, the new patent-pending technology improves consistency batch-to-batch and within individual parts.

The UK's Colour Tone Masterbatch and Freefoam Plastics, based in Cork, Ireland, have co-developed a series of heat-reflective colour masterbatches for unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVCu) building and roofline products.

Chemtura Corp has announced plans to restructure its global supply chain for standard antioxidants in order to position itself to be more competitive in the world plastics market and to more effectively serve its global customers. The restructuring supports Chemtura's overall objectives of reducing costs and optimizing its global manufacturing footprint, while maintaining the company's strong commitment to the antioxidants business.

Tin-based thermal stabilizers are once again subject to price increases, due in particular to the high cost of tin. Increasing raw material and energy costs, as well as tight supply situations and the need for reinvestment, are also among the factors responsible for additional price rises across a range of polymer additives.

Germany's Altana AG, which now concentrates on the speciality chemicals business, is to acquire the worldwide effects pigments business of UK company Wolstenholme Group Ltd for a purchase price of €24 million. In 2006, Wolstenholme achieved sales of about €29 million in this business area. Financial investor Rutland Partners LLP is the majority owner of the company, which was founded in 1938. The acquisition is subject to approval by the antitrust authorities.

Cabot Corp is to close its carbon black manufacturing facility in Waverly, WV, USA. It is anticipated that manufacturing operations will cease next March with customer shipments from the facility continuing until mid-2008.

Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL) is to acquire US-based Supresta LLC, the world's largest producer of phosphorus-based flame retardants and other products made from phosphorus. The purchase price is US$352 million, subject to certain adjustments, mainly working capital. In 2006, Supresta had a gross profit of $49.8 million on sales of $250 million.

Clariant posted a solid sales performance in the first three months of 2007, with growth of 5% in Swiss franc terms (6% in local currencies) to CHF2.156 billion (c €1.3 billion) from CHF2.048 billion a year earlier. Strong demand was seen across all businesses.

Holliday Pigments is to close its UK manufacturing site for ultramarine blue pigments, with the loss of 95 jobs. The company has been manufacturing its trademark blue pigments, used today in plastics and other applications, in Kingston-upon-Hull for 120 years.

Lanxess AG once again posted a year-on-year earnings increase in the first quarter, traditionally the strongest three-month period in the year. Net income improved by 11% to €91 million in 1Q March 2007 (E82 million in 1Q 2006) while EBITDA pre-exceptionals grew by 6.8%, from €205 million in 1Q 2006 to €219 million. ‘With this further improvement in profitability, we have laid a solid foundation for further growth,’ says Lanxess chairman Axel C. Heitmann.

Ferro Corp posted sales for the quarter ended 31 March 2007 of US$530 million, up 5% from $505 million recorded in 1Q 2006. Increased product pricing and the effects of favourable foreign currency exchange rates were the primary drivers of sales growth for 1Q 2007, though partially offset by volume declines.

US manufacturer of engineered rubber powders Lehigh Technologies reports that it is on track to triple production capacity for its ultra-fine rubber powder and is in the final phase of its search for two new plant sites. Produced from recycled rubber [ADPO, August 2005], Lehigh's fine rubber powders have a range of applications including as modifiers for rigid plastics.

To further strengthen its commitment to achieving world-class performance (ADPO, January 2007], Clariant has announced a comprehensive series of senior management appointments. The aim is to create a leadership team that blends highly experienced, long-standing Clariant executives with outside talent, all of whom have excellent track records in driving change and achieving outstanding results. This also marks a major step forwards in developing a culture characterized by a customer and market orientation, entrepreneurship, innovation and strong accountability, the company says.

In April, the US state of Washington passed legislation establishing a formal, three-step process to identify and approve ‘alternative’ flame retardants that could come into use in the state.