Additives for Polymers (v.2013, #5)

In the USA, Emerald Kalama Chemical, a business unit of Emerald Performance Materials, has expanded its family of non-phthalate plasticizers with the introduction of two new products: Kalama™ K-Flex® PG and Kalama K-Flex 850P. The K-Flex PG product has been specifically formulated to optimize the performance of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compounds, while K-Flex 850P is designed to enhance the characteristics of vinyl and plastisol systems, the company says.

At this year's JEC Composites Show in March, Wacker unveiled two new low profile additives (LPAs) that are claimed to provide perfect surfaces and counteract shrinkage in the production of fibre–resin composites. The first LPA, Vinnapas® LL 8588, features a novel polymer architecture that facilitates the production of non-shrink composite parts in low-temperature processes, while the second, Vinnapas LL 8251, keeps shrinkage in check in established high-temperature processes, according to the company.

PolyOne Corp has delivered its first forecast of future colour trends with the release of Color Inspiration 2014. This collection of six colour palettes provides ‘insights about global colour experiences’ looking ahead to 2014, the company says. The purported aim is to help product designers and developers to increase the market success of products through the selection of ‘on-trend’ colours, and to reduce the time to market by condensing the development cycle.

Netherlands-based AkzoNobel is extending its portfolio of cobalt-free curing solutions for thermoset resins with the introduction of a second generation of Nouryact™ accelerators. The range was originally launched in 2011 [ADPO, March 2011].

Ohio-based compounder and masterbatch manufacturer A. Schulman has made an offer to buy fellow US company Ferro Corp, a producer of speciality chemicals. Both companies are active in the colour and additive masterbatches sector, and in compounding. The offer is for US$6.50 (c. £5.00) per Ferro share – half in cash, half in Schulman common stock – representing an estimated total enterprise value of $855 million, including equity value of $563 million, and a 25% premium over Ferro's 1 March 2013 closing price. Schulman disclosed the offer on 4 March but Ferro has to date turned down the deal.

In Poland, Clariant Masterbatches has broken ground for a new plant in Konstantynów Łódźki. The new building covers an area of about 6800 m2 and will include new production, laboratory and warehouse facilities as well as offices. The investment, worth CHF11.3 million (c. E9.1 million), will enable Clariant to double its production capacity for colour masterbatches in Poland, and create new job opportunities in the Łódź region, the company says.

US chemicals giant Dow Chemical has announced the next stage in its on-going ‘aggressive portfolio management’ process, with proposals to sell its plastics additives operation as well as its polypropylene licensing and catalysts business unit. As a result of thorough portfolio reviews ‘in a slow-growth world’, the company has disclosed that it is targeting a divestiture list worth nearly US$1.50 billion (E1.17 billion) over the next 18 months.

In the Asia Pacific, Cabot Corp has completed the establishment of a new plastics applications development laboratory in Shanghai. The ‘significant investment’ includes advanced processing and testing equipment and experienced technicians, which will allow the company to serve and collaborate better with its customers in the China and Asia Pacific plastics industry, it says. According to Cabot, the Shanghai lab builds on its global capabilities, networking with existing applications labs in Europe and the USA, to ensure the latest technologies and products for speciality carbon black and speciality black masterbatch and compounds are implemented in the region.

The American arm of Songwon Industrial's recently formed joint venture Songwon Additive Technologies AG [ADPO, December 2012] is commencing production of one pack system (OPS) products at a new facility in Houston, TX, USA. Start-up was scheduled for April this year. The Houston facility has an initial capacity of 7000 tonnes per year.

Speciality chemicals, paints and coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel NV has revealed a new strategic focus and updated financial targets for the next two years. The Amsterdam-headquartered company says its revised strategy aims ‘to deliver its full potential’ through focus on customer service, operational excellence and sustainability. The announcement was concurrent with the publication of AkzoNobel's annual results for 2012, in which it reported a net loss of E2.17 billion as a result of heavy 3Q impairment charges.

Austria's masterbatch firm Gabriel-Chemie GmbH is planning to expand its production capacities by building a new plant in the Alabuga special economic industrial zone in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan. According to the company, undisclosed investments will be made by the end of 2013 to build a production hall, laboratory and warehouse. Black, white, colour and additive masterbatches will be produced.

French chemicals major Arkema posted annual net sales of E6.4 billion in 2012, an 8.4% increase compared to E5.9 billion in 2011. EBITDA decreased by 3.7% to E996 million (E1034 million in 2011), but the company points out that this is again close to its target EBITDA figure of E1 billion and was achieved in a less-favourable economic environment that in 2011. The EBITDA margin was 15.6% and adjusted net income from continuing operations was E441 million, down 23% from E574 million in the previous year.

For the fourth quarter of 2012, Chemtura Corp reported net sales of US$622 million and net earnings from continuing operations attributable to the company on a GAAP basis of $27 million. These figures represent increases of 8% and 13%, respectively, compared to 4Q 2011. Operating income fell 40% to $32 million.

Swiss speciality chemicals manufacturer Clariant has introduced its new EcoTain® approach to sustainable innovation. The development of the EcoTain life cycle and label is driven by the company's commitment to protect human, environmental and ecological health without compromising on performance and efficiency, Clariant explains. The EcoTain label assures customers of sustainability at the product level, it says.