Plastics News reporter Frank Esposito gathered the following items at Flexpo 2003, held Sept. 17-19 in Galveston, Texas.
Aspen systems aim to boost polymer plants
Computer software and operating systems developed by Aspen Technology Inc. of Houston are aimed at helping polymer plants increase their capacity and reduce their production of off-spec material.
``The next wave of polypropylene demand is expected to hit in 2006 and 2007, and you have to ask if all these plants around the world that have been running at lower operating rates will be ready for it,'' said Martin Devine, Aspen's vice president and general manager of polymers.
Aspen's nonlinear operating systems already are used worldwide on 24 lines operated by such firms as Equistar Chemicals LP, Nova Chemicals Corp., Sinopec and Sabic. An additional six or seven lines are expected to begin using Aspen systems in the next 12 months.
The systems can predict resin density and melt index and reduce variability, Devine said. Typically, a plant can increase its capacity 2-10 percent and reduce its transition off-spec production by 25-50 percent with the Aspen systems, according to Aspen.
Pemex seeks partners for major PE project
If Pemex Petroquímica can get its Project Phoenix off the ground, the state-owned firm could control half of Mexico's polyethylene market by 2006.
Mexico City-based Pemex currently supplies 30 percent of the nation's PE, but if outside investors come through on the ambitious project, that would change, polymers director Alejandro Ramirez said. Plans call for construction of two massive petrochemicals complexes, in either Altamíra or Coatzacoalcos, by 2008.
Even without that effort, Pemex plans to add 660 million pounds of swing capacity for high and linear low density PE in 2006 and another 220 million pounds of HDPE capacity in 2007. Mexican PE demand is expected to increase from less than 3 billion pounds a year to more than 4 billion between 2002 and 2006.