Toyota looking for bioplastic producer
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - Melbourne-based Toyota Motor Corp. Australia Ltd. is in negotiations to locate a bioplastic manufacturing plant in the Australian state of Queensland.
The plastic will be produced from polylactic acid, created by fermenting sugarcane. The biodegradable, water-resistant PLA resin will be used to make car components.
A Toyota concept car, Eco Spirit cubic, launched last year featured bioplastic components including the door pillar garnish and interior panels. An advantage of PLA resin is its compatibility with plastic molding processes, including blow molding.
A spokesman for Queensland State Development Minister Tom Barton said planned deregulation of the sugar industry will open the way for Toyota to secure sugarcane supplies. There are 6,500 sugarcane growers and 26 sugar mills in the state that, because of deregulation, will face a risk of going out of business within a decade, according to the Queensland government.
The spokesman said the minister is waiting for a firm proposal from Toyota before considering how it can assist such a project.
The Japanese parent company, Toyota Motor Corp., expects its first bioplastic plant to be finished in September. Toyota also has a project in Indonesia to grow sweet potatoes for PLA production.
GE Polymerland adds
to ResinDirect stock
DAVIDSON, N.C. - After a three-year partnership, resin distributor ResinDirect LLC next month will begin handling all of GE Polymerland's commodity resin distribution directly.
Davidson-based ResinDirect had been doing the same work behind the scenes since 2000, but actual polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene sales - as well as account management - were handled by the sales staff of GE Polymerland. Customers buying those materials now will work through ResinDirect sales reps, officials said.
In a recent news release, ResinDirect President Bill Rippe called the move ``the next step in implementing [ResinDirect's] growth strategy.''
Making the switch ``allows us to focus directly on the customer,'' said Rippe, who earlier had described Huntersville, N.C.-based GE Polymerland as ``the main leg'' of ResinDirect's less-than-truckload distribution business.
ResinDirect distributed about 500 million pounds of PE, PP and PS last year, but the firm declined to reveal how much of that amount was generated via GE Polymerland. ResinDirect distributes material for BP Amoco plc, Nova Chemicals Corp., Formosa Plastics Corp. USA, Equistar Chemicals LP, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., Huntsman Polymers Corp., Denka Inc. and Petromont SA.
For its part, GE Polymerland is making the switch so the firm ``can continue to focus on engineering resins and new products,'' said GE Plastics spokeswoman Banu Kukner. The transition process is expected to last 10-12 months, Kukner added.
ResinDirect and its parent firm, Louis Dreyfus Energy Services, are part of Louis Dreyfus Group, a Paris-based investment firm and commodities broker.
GE Polymerland ranks as one of North America's largest resin distributors, handling a majority of sales for parent GE Plastics, as well as offering materials from 18 other resin makers and compounders. Counting sales of GE Plastics resins, GE Polymerland posted sales of more than $2 billion last year.
CP Chem technology
HOUSTON - ExxonMobil Chemical Co. has struck a deal with Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC that will allow Chevron Phillips to license loop slurry polyethylene production technology developed by both firms.
The agreement also gives ExxonMobil additional rights to use Chevron Phillips' loop slurry technology to produce PE at its plant in Baton Rouge, La. ExxonMobil spokesman Vin Hoey declined to comment on that aspect of the deal, but said ExxonMobil already has been using CP technology in Baton Rouge for some time.
In a May 22 news release, officials said the technology involved delivers high reactor throughput while minimizing capital and operating costs. Both Houston-based firms are major suppliers of high density PE, while ExxonMobil is a significant player in low and linear low density PE markets as well.
The agreement gives CP access to licensing ExxonMobil's bimodal HDPE technology into film and pipe markets, said Faisal Syed, an analyst with Chemical Market Resources Inc. in Houston.
New HDPE demand could come from regions where pipe use is on the upswing, Syed added. Those areas include Asia, where construction is rising, and Europe, where more HDPE pipe could be needed for gas distribution.
Syed ranks CP as the world's largest licensor of HDPE technology. He estimates that one-third of global HDPE is made under CP licenses. ExxonMobil also recently granted a metallocene PE production license to Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd. of Tokyo. Sumitomo is expected to use the license to produce metallocene PE at a plant in Chiba, Japan.
At NPE 2003, ExxonMobil is expected to announce an advancement using its Exxpol-brand metallocene technology to develop new specialty elastomers.