Shell Chemicals plans to enter the polycarbonate resin market through a partnership with CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. Ltd. of China.
The two firms signed a memorandum of understanding for the project on Jan. 13. A commercial-scale PC production unit would be located at an existing Shell/CNOOC joint venture chemicals complex in Huizhou, China. State-owned CNOOC is one of China's largest national oil firms.
Officials said in a news release that, as an interim step, London-based Shell has started building a PC development unit at its Jurong Island chemicals plant in Singapore. No timetable for production was included in the release.
Target markets for the new PC resin include vehicle headlights, LED spotlights, UV-blocking windows and eyeglasses.
"This is an example of our customer-led growth strategy in action," Thomas Casparie, Shell global chemicals executive vice president, said in the release. "We have an advantaged route to production and are looking at investment in a number of commercial-scale units to serve the growing number of polycarbonate customers."
Officials added that the new PC production will use Shell's patented diphenyl carbonate (DPC) process technology. Shell has developed this technology in recent years to achieve significant advantages in cost, safety, efficiency and CO2 footprint, they said.
Shell will now combine its DPC technology with melt-phase PC technology licensed from EPC Engineering & Technology GmbH of Arnstadt, Germany. Shell's PC production units also will make alkyl carbonates, which are used in lithium ion batteries.
Shell already produces PC feedstocks phenol and acetone at plants in Deer Park, Texas.