Additives for Polymers (v.2014, #9)

Germany's oxo-chemicals specialist Oxea GmbH has expanded its range of phthalate-free plasticizers with the introduction of a stabilized trioctyl trimellitate (TOTM) product under the brand name Oxsoft TOTM ST. The new plasticizer has been developed to address specific performance requirements in application areas where extreme low volatility is required, the company explains. Oxea has also recently completed the construction phase for its new speciality esters plant in Nanjing.

Rowa Lack of Pinneberg, Germany, has introduced Rowalid Series E pigment preparations for manufacturing plastisols and plasticizer-based pigment pastes used in the fabrication of tarpaulins and synthetic leather. According to the company, the new products eliminate the need for complicated dispersion equipment, such as hopper, three-roll and ball mills. Users can simply stir the preparation into plasticizers to obtain high-quality pigment concentrates that are claimed to be as good as commercial plasticizer-based pigment pastes.

Targeting designers and brand leaders, PolyOne has unveiled a new range of liquid colour concentrates that infuse PET containers with shimmer and frost effects. Described as ‘unique’, the new colorants are the latest offering from the company's InVisiO suite of innovative colour services and solutions, which was launched last year [ADPO, July 2013].

Israeli compound, additive and masterbatch manufacturer Tosaf has expanded its family of anti-fog masterbatches to meet the ‘challenging needs’ of the packaging industry. Designed for applications in packaging films and sheets that require high-level optical properties, the two new grades are food contact approved, adjusted for optimal processing and activity as well as individually formulated to create ‘fast responsive and long-lasting anti-fog activity’ in specific polyolefins, the company says.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Bylox® Concentrated Additive from Genarex Inc as a USDA-certified bio-based product. Bylox is a low-cost, plant-based bioadditive that incorporates readily into a wide variety of polymer resins, offering ‘a host of mechanical and barrier improvements’ compared with the base material, Genarex claims. USDA test results indicate that the additive has a bio-based content of at least 98%, the company reports.

In the USA, Albemarle Corp and Rockwood Holdings plan to create a new speciality chemicals company under a merger agreement that will see Albemarle acquire all outstanding shares of Rockwood in a cash and stock transaction valued at around US$6.2 billion. The completion of the deal will result in Rockwood shareholders owning approximately 30% of the combined company while Albemarle shareholders will own around 70%. The new entity will have market-leading positions across four high-margin businesses: lithium, catalysts, bromine and surface treatment.

Sun Capital Partners has sold speciality chemicals manufacturer Emerald Performance Materials to New York-based private equity firm American Securities LLC. Headquartered in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA, Emerald had been an affiliated portfolio company of Sun Capital since 2006. The private transaction was completed on 1 August; the terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

A mid-double-digit million euro investment is planned by Evonik Industries to construct a precipitated silica facility in Americana, São Paulo, Brazil. The company expects to commission the plant in 2016. Evonik is also investing a similar sum in a new silanes research centre in Germany.

Private investment firm Ardian is acquiring Italian speciality chemicals manufacturer Italmatch Chemicals from Mandarin Capital Partners and the Malacalza family. Italmatch's senior management, including CEO Sergio Iorio, will retain a 12% stake in the company. Italmatch has achieved strong growth levels in the past few years, with 2014 sales forecast to be more than double 2012 levels.

Global chemical company Arkema and speciality chemicals firm Omya have entered into an exclusive pan-European distribution agreement. Under the terms of this deal, Omya will market Arkema's plastic additives range for various polymer markets across Europe, with the exception of Spain and Portugal.

In Porto Torres, Italy, the first of several planned green chemistry plants has been opened by Matrìca, a 50/50 joint venture between US-based bioplastics firm Novamont and Italian company Versalis, which is part of global petrochemicals producer ENI. Using a proprietary process, the plant will convert renewable vegetable oils into monomers and intermediates (including pelargonic acid and azelaic acid), the base products for downstream production of more complex bio-products.

For its fiscal third quarter ended 31 May 2014, A. Schulman, Inc reported net income from continuing operations attributable to the company of US$19.1 million, on net sales of $645.7 million. For the same period in 2013, net income from continuing operations was $5.2 million and net sales were $548.5 million. The company says it benefited from both organic growth and acquisitions in the 2014 quarter.

For the second quarter of 2014, Cytec Industries Inc of Woodland Park, NJ, USA, posted net earnings attributable to the company of US$73.6 million, more than double the comparable 2Q 2013 figure of $34.6 million. Net sales and earnings from continuing operations in 2Q 2014 were $527 million and $62.5 million, respectively. In 2Q 2013, net sales and earnings from continuing operations were $514 million and $62.6 million.

The global market for high-performance and speciality pigments was valued at US$4.26 billion for 2013, with a volume of 161 000 tonnes. The market is forecast to expand at an annual growth rate of 2.7% over the next five years to reach $5 billion and 189 200 tonnes by 2019, according to a recently published report from Smithers Rapra entitled The Future of High Performance and Specialty Pigments to 2019.

Under pressure from the European Commission, the Danish government has stepped back from introducing proposed legislation that would have unilaterally banned four commonly used phthalate plasticizers: DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP. The ban was due to come into force from December 2015, but has now been scrapped after the government was advised that a unilateral ban would contravene European Union (EU) rules for chemical registration under the REACH programme.