June 14, 2012

Oleochemical news roundup

 Solvay has announced this before but I guess this time, the project is for real as the company said it will build another 100,000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) facility that will use refined glycerin for feedstock to be located in Taixing, China.
Solvay's Thailand-based affiliate Vinythai will manufacture the glycerin-based ECH using Solvay's Epicerol technology. This is Vinythai's second bio-based ECH. It's first one in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, is already ip and running since March this year.
ECH is an essential feedstock for the production of epoxy resins and is also increasingly being used in applications such as corrosion protection coating, in electronics, automotive or aersopace markets. For 1 tonne of ECH produced using the Epicerol technology, 1.1 tonnes of refined glycerin is used as feedstock and added with hydrogen chloride.
The new China-based plant is expected to become operational in the second half of 2014. Vinythai shareholders are expected to approve the investment formally in July 2012.
Vinythai's major shareholders are the Solvay Group (58.77%) and PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited (24.98%).
According to Solvay, China is the largest ECH market in the world.
In other oleochemical news (and a big one at that), state-owned Malaysian palm and rubber plantation firm FELDA Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) is seeking to raise up to $3.2bn from an initial public offering under Bursa Malaysia (Malaysia's stock exchange). The IPO will be the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world after Facebook.
Proceeds from the IPO will be used to boost Felda's expansion in Southeast Asia and Africa. Felda was set up by the government in the 1950s as part of a rural development plan to alleviate poverty by giving Malaysian farmers land to grow cash crops mainly palm oil and rubber.
Felda Holdings BHD (where FGVH holds 49% equity stake) actually co-owns FPG Oleochemicals Sdn Bhd with Procter & Gamble Chemicals. FPG is a big oleochemical player in Malaysia with production capacity of 280,000 tonnes/year of methyl ester; 80,000 tonnes/year of fatty alcohol; 35,000 tonnes/year of glycerin and 60,000 tonnes/year of detergents as of 2011.
In the US, Felda also has an oleochemical subsidiary Twin Rivers Technologies based in Massachusetts, which the group bought in 2007. TRT produces fatty acid, glycerin, biofuels and esters.
FGVH is also a producer of crude palm oil and crude palm kernel oil -- an oleochemical feedstock -- with around 70 palm oil mills in Malaysia. FGVH is said to be Malaysia's largest oil palm plantation operator accounting for 6.7% of the country's market share last year. FGVH is expected to overtake Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby as the world's largest listed plantation group.
Last but not the least, I forgot to include this news on my weekly roundup in April about the Netherlands-based biofuel producer BioMCN partnering with UK-based ED&F for the sourcing, risk management and delivery of crude glycerin from Argentina.
BioMCN uses crude glycerin as feedstock for producing bio-methanol, which can be blended directly with gasoline and [or] used for fuels such as bio-based MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), biodiesel, and bio-based DME (dimethyl ether).
By the way, I hope readers of ICIS Chemical Business did not forget to read this interesting article published on April 2 about glycerin-based glycols written by colleague Judith Taylor.
The article mentioned Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) now producing propylene glycol at its 100,000 tonne/year plant in Decatur, Illinois; and  Hong Kong-based Global Bio-chemical Technology Group (Global Bio-chem) making propylene glycol using corn-derived sugars. Global Bio-chem is also aiming to produce bio-ethylene glycol this year as well as further plans to make bio-butanediol.
Global Bio-chem has a 200,000 tonne/year bio-based propylene glycol plant in Jilin Province, China, which has been operating since 2007.
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