Daelim Industrial agreed to license technology for the manufacturing of polyisobutylene to Lubrizol Corp., the companies announced Sunday. Lubrizol said it will make the chemicals at its existing factory in Deer Park, Texas, United States, and that production could begin in approximately three years.
Lubrizol already manufactures PIBs at Deer Park – and at another factory in Le Havre, France – but its existing capacity is mostly for conventional PIB. Daelims technology allows a single plant to make both conventional and highly reactive PIB.
Through this agreement, Lubrizol will ensure its access to process technology that offers the company multiple benefits, Lubrizol Additives President Dan Sheets said in a press release. It provides Lubrizol formulating flexibility to meet the evolving performance needs of the global lubricant and fuel additives markets over time.
The United States-based company, the worlds largest supplier of lubricant additive packages, declined to discuss the size or cost of the project, noting that it is entering the engineering design phase.
Conventional PIB is frequently used as a base stock (sometimes as a replacement for bright stock) and as a viscosity index improver. Highly reactive PIBs are used as chemical intermediates in the production of lubricant and fuel additives, particularly dispersants. Demand for dispersant lubricant additives is rising as governments around the world adopt vehicular pollution restrictions that curb emissions of particulate matter partly by dumping soot into engine sumps. Dispersants help keep that material from forming deposits on engine components.
Several HR-PIB projects are now in the works. One, at Daelims plant in Yeosu, South Korea, will increase HR-PIB capacity from 65,000 metric tons per year to 100,000 t/y next year. BASF and Petronas Chemicals Group announced an agreement last month to build a 50,000 t/y plant at their Kuantan, Malaysia, petrochemical complex by 2017. TPC Group is debottlenecking its PIB plant in Houston, Texas, and has contracted for the front end engineering and design of an additional HR-PIB production unit that it wants to build there.
We forecast the demand of PIB will continue to grow, Jaewook Kim, general manager of business development at Daelim Industrial Co.s Petrochemical Division, told Lube Report Asia. PIB, especially HR-PIB, is a core material in the production of dispersants for lubricant additives. In order to meet fuel economy and emission regulations in automobiles, the use of PIB in lubricant additives will increase.
PIB is produced by assembling chains of isobutylenes. According to Kim, the chief chemical difference between conventional and highly reactive PIB is that the end molecular groups of HR-PIB contain higher percentages – typically around 80 percent – of vinylidene, the molecules that make it more reactive. That reactivity improves lubricant production efficiency by simplifying the manufacturing process. HR-PIBs are also non-toxic and described as eco-friendly because they are very low in sulfur and chlorine.
Seoul-based Daelim is a chemical and construction giant. In addition to the chemical plants that it operates in South Korea, it has built chemical plants for other companies in foreign countries. This is its first time licensing its PIB production technology, Kim said. Lubrizol will need a year to obtain permits for the new capacity at Deer Park, he added, and construction will last two more years.