NOVA and Union Carbide to build ethylene plant

This month's news is from and about:

* Canada

* Australia

* Malaysia

* U.K.

* Brazil

* Scotland

NOVA Corp. and Union Carbide Inc. are jointly building Ethelene III, a two-billion-lb/yr ethylene plant in Joffre, AB, Canada. Novacor's two existing ethylene plants on the Joffre site have a combined capacity of 3.4 billion lb/yr. After EIII comes onstream, the site is expected to be among the largest ethylene manufacturing complexes in the world, with a production capacity of 5.4 billion lb. Novacor will operate the plant.

"Our existing Joffre ethylene plants are already ranked among North America's lowest-cost production facilities," says Novacor president Dan Boivin. "This is largely because of the access we have in Alberta to large-scale ethane extraction and transportation infrastructure and competitive natural gas.

"These factors, plus others, are coined locally as the 'Alberta Advantage.'"

The Alberta Advantage also provides a product transportation cost advantage to southeast Asian markets compared with those costs to competitors using North America's other main petrochemical-producing center on the US Gulf Coast. The plant's projected date of operation of 2000 should coincide with China's expected growth as a market for ethylene derivatives.

While half of the production from EIII will be owned by Union Carbide, Novacor has developed various plans for its share of production. For example, the company is considering an expansion of its existing polyethylene capacity in Alberta.

Dave Sansom, VP of PE marketing at Novacor, explains, "We hope our plans demonstrate to our polyethylene customers an assurance of supply to meet any of their growing requirements over the coming years."

A final decision on this matter is expected toward the latter part of this year.

Film Acquisition

ICI Australia is in the process of finalizing the purchase of Horitech Film Mfg. Bhd, a plastics film extrusion business in Malaysia. The firm produces polyethylene film for baby diaper and feminine hygiene markets, and its current sales are about $10 million a year.

"This acquisition will complement the strong market position ICI Australia already holds in the Asian films market," says ICI Australia Films Div. general manager Tony Fincham. "It will also provide a manufacturing base for further growth in the region."

ICI Films has a manufacturing operation at its Deer Park site in Melbourne, which is currently increasing its capacity to meet the growth and increased demand in the diaper film market. The division is also upgrading the production capacity of its propathene plant at Botany, NSW, from 74,000 to 85,000 tons/yr.

Slitter Purchase

Dusenbery Europe, Bedford, U.K., has exported the first audio tape slitter to Videolar in Brazil. The Model 809 for audio cassette tapes slits up to a 350-mm web into 84 tapes of 3.81 mm in width at speeds to 300 m/min. High-precision tungsten carbide knives ensure micrometer accuracy.

The slit tapes then pass through a tape wire assembly that cleans both sides before center-winding it into individual pancakes on two pairs of rewind shafts. This highly polished slippery stock requires sensitive control throughout the conversion process.

The slitter features a fully driven unwind fitted with an automatic edge-guide unit and dancer roll control. At the differential rewind section, the company's automatic tension profile takes over, controlling the hardness of the pancakes, which can measure up to 406 mm in diameter. Each has its own top-riding roll to ensure optimum rewind quality.

A turret rewind section is designed to reduce downtime to a minimum as new cores are loaded onto one shaft in each twin unit during a slitting run on the other.

Film News

ICI Films has announced the investment of more than [pounds]60 million to build a new plant alongside existing units in Dumfries, Scotland. The facility will add an estimated 20,000 tons/yr of Melinex polyester film and should be completed by the end of 1997.

David MacLeod, Melinex European managing director, says, "This major new investment will be used to upgrade the total Melinex European asset base to ensure that we can meet the needs of all our customers and product sectors."

Vladimir Wolpert publishes reports dealing with paper and plastics technology, marketing, and environmental matters. He has been in the industry for more than 50 years.

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