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Material Insights: Jan. 14, 2013

Published: January 14, 2013 6:00 am ET
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:28 pm ET

The startup of a pair of shale gas-related plastics projects is featured in this week's Material Insights video. In Hahnville, La., Dow Chemical Co. has restarted production of plastic feedstock ethylene at its St. Charles plant. The unit had been offline for almost four years. In Lake Charles, La., Westlake Chemical Corp. has started work on a 60-day project that will add 230 million pounds of annual ethylene capacity top its plant there. Officials with both firms said these moves were connected to new supplies of low-cost natural gas in North America.

The postponement of a bioplastics plant in Brazil also is featured in this week's video. Dow and Mitsui & Co. of Japan had planned to build a plant in Santa Vitoria making plastics from sugar-based ethanol, but that plant now is on hold because of rising design and construction costs and delays caused by Brazil's land ownership laws. The video wraps up with news of a pair of plastic material expansions in Europe. In Luxembourg, Ampacet Corp. has increased black and white concentrate production by 60 percent at its plant there. The site also includes a wastewater treatment plant and a sorting area for recycling. In Spain, PVC maker Kem One will add about 15 million pounds of capacity for emulsion PVC. The firm plans to spend more than $500 million companywide during the next five years to strengthen its manufacturing performance.

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