Additives for Polymers (v.2016, #7)

Operations have commenced at Huntsman Corp's new colour pigments facility in Augusta, GA, USA. The first plant for the synthesis of iron oxide pigments to be built in North America for more than 35 years, the new facility has cost around US$172 million (€154 million) to develop and build. The site has the capacity to produce 30 000 tonnes per annum of yellow, red and black iron oxide pigments.

The latest polymer additive introduction from Altana Group company BYK-Chemie is BYKO2BLOCK-1200, a barrier additive designed to reduce gas permeability in food packaging films, particularly those based on biopolymers such as polylactic acid (PLA). Composed of modified aluminium-magnesium clay, the new additive is reported to provide a significant improvement (>30%) in impermeability towards gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour in PLA systems.

German performance materials producer Merck KGaA has introduced Iriodin® 6111 Icy White Pristine KU26, the latest in its Iriodin Icy White series of synthetic mica-based effect pigments. Offering ‘pristine purity’ and ‘outstanding hiding power’ and incorporating Merck's special KU26 stabilization technology ‘for lasting colour impression’, this pigment is designed for high-quality plastic and print products, the company says.

US colour and additive masterbatch major Ampacet Corp has launched ReptyleFx masterbatch, which employs patent-pending technology to create ‘unique customizable colours and surface textures’ replicating snakeskin's tactile and visual appeal in flexible plastic film. The new technology, which marries colours, special effects and functional additives, offers designers ‘the opportunity to create edgy new products’, according to the company. The use of a special effect additive enables multidimensional colour effects to be achieved in both rough and smooth textures within a minimum two-layer film structure, Ampacet reports.

US sealed liquid additives and colorants producer Riverdale Global has launched a new series of antimicrobial agents for use with polyolefins and engineering thermoplastics. The company claims that its +Clean additives provide more-effective product protection at lower let-down ratios than masterbatches.

Japanese high-performance fibres and composites producer Teijin Ltd reports that it has developed a flame retardant masterbatch for use with textile fibres as well as resins. The new product incorporates the company's proprietary phosphorus-based FCX-210 flame retardant launched in 2013 [ADPO, November 2013] in combination with a polymer carrier suitable for use in fibre applications.

The Chemours Company has begun the commercial start-up of the new titanium dioxide (TiO2) line at its Altamira plant in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Following mechanical completion of the line in December 2015, the company reports that it has now begun to run it using its proprietary chloride process, producing Ti-Pure TiO2 pigments for customer qualification.

PolyOne's ColorMatrix business has licensed the right to manufacture, market and sell a high-performance light-blocking technology for liquid dairy packaging from Novapet, a leading polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin and concentrate manufacturer. Novapet's DCU (Dairy Concentrate Ultra) additive protects UHT milk packaged in monolayer PET bottles from degrading due to light radiation.

International compound and masterbatch supplier A. Schulman, Inc has expanded its production capacity in China with the official opening of a new colour masterbatch facility in Changshu, in the country's Jiangsu Province north of Shanghai. Output from its second wholly-owned plant in China will serve growing demand in the region, the company says. It already has a facility in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, where it has recently been investing in additional capacity for masterbatch and engineering plastics production [ADPO, February 2015].

Flame retardant producer Albemarle Corp is discontinuing production of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)-based flame retardants in order to focus on supplying its GreenCrest-branded polymeric fire safety solutions. GreenCrest, which is based on technology licensed from Dow Global Technologies LLC [ADPO, June 2012], is considered a ‘sustainable alternative’ to HBCD for use in expanded (EPS) and extruded (XPS) polystyrene foam applications. The company says it will continue to support its HBCD customers in accordance with contractual obligations.

US-based industrial gases producer Air Products has signed a definitive agreement to sell the Performance Materials Division (PMD) of its Materials Technologies segment to German speciality chemicals major Evonik Industries AG for US$3.8 billion in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, operational facilities, supplier contracts, labs, customers, employees and certain legal entities associated with PMD would transfer to Evonik. The transaction is expected to close before the end of 2016, and is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Leading mineral-based additives producer Imerys has expanded its polymer laboratory located in San Jose, CA, USA. Testing capabilities have been extended with the addition of several new competencies to help ensure that the company can provide ‘the highest level of customer support’, it reports.

In the USA, DyStar LP, the American subsidiary of DyStar Global Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd, has entered into an agreement to acquire the Specialties, Polymer Additives and Nitriles business groups of Emerald Performance Materials. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The sale is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016, subject to standard regulatory approvals.

Following a good first quarter, Germany's Lanxess has raised its earnings forecast for fiscal 2016. The company now expects to achieve EBITDA pre-exceptionals of between €900 million and €950 million. Previously, it had assumed earnings of €880 million to €930 million. Lanxess recorded sales of €1.92 billion in 1Q 2016, down 5.8% from €2.04 billion the previous year, largely as a result of selling price adjustments to reflect lower raw material prices, it says. However, quarterly net income more than doubled to €53 million.

South Korean company Songwon Industrial Group reported a promising start to 2016. According to its audited financial results for the first quarter of the year, the firm achieved sales of KRW183.1 billion (c. €145 million), an increase in revenues of 16.6% compared to KRW157.0 billion in 1Q 2015. Net profit increased almost fourfold, from KRW3.1 billion in 1Q 2015 to KRW12.2 billion this year.

German industrial market researcher Ceresana recently released the fourth edition of its market study concerning fillers, in which it forecasts an increase in revenues for the sector to US$31.76 billion in 2023. Fillers are used both to reduce the proportion of more costly raw materials in a formulation and to improve the properties of the carrier material. The most important applications are the production and processing of paper, plastics, elastomers, paints and varnishes, as well as adhesives and sealants.