Chemtura Corp. has begun the commissioning process of its new polyalphaolefin plant in Ankerweg, Netherlands, and almost simultaneously has started up a grease plant in Nantong, China.
Our Nantong lubricating grease plant started production last week, and made its first batch of calcium sulfonate complex grease, Simon D. Medley, president and general manager of Chemtura’s Petroleum Additives business, told Lube Report on Monday. The facility, located about 80 miles northwest of Shanghai, is now fine-tuning its greasemaking processes.
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The next step will be to send grease samples to customers and original equipment manufacturers in China for testing and approvals. We then expect to ramp up to produce grease on a commercial scale in the fourth quarter of this year, said Medley. The plant will also make products for other Chemtura businesses including urethanes.
Meanwhile, construction of the Netherlands PAO plant is complete and we expect to begin producing sample PAO quantities so customers can get their approval processes under way, Medley said. Commercially approved volumes should be ready to ship to customers at the beginning of 2014.
Located outside Amsterdam, the Ankerweg plant uses process technology that is equivalent to that in place at Chemtura’s existing PAO plant in Elmira, Ont., Canada. The Canadian operation makes high-vis Synton PAOs, and increased capacity in 2011 by 25 percent to meet demand in both North America and Europe. Lubes’n’Greases magazine estimates Elmira’s capacity at 15,800 metric tons per year.
Medley, who is based in Philadelphia, declined to disclose the cost of the Ankerweg facility, only remarking, I can say that it represents a significant investment. He also declined to reveal the plant’s capacity, saying the company considers that information to be confidential.
Like its Canadian sister, Medley said, Ankerweg will make conventional high-viscosity PAO in 40 and 100 cSt grades under the Synton brand name. We have metallocene catalyst capability for making PAO, but Ankerweg will make conventional PAO because that’s the type that has dominated demand in this market, he pointed out.
The new PAO plant represents great value as well as supply security for our customers in Europe, being based in their home market, he continued. That’s also where the highest demand is seen for high-viscosity PAO in the most demanding and sophisticated of automotive and industrial applications.
Both the Ankerweg and Nantong plants were given the green light in 2011, and are finishing up on schedule, Medley said. He said a major emphasis throughout both projects has been safety: safe construction, safe start up, safe plants. The Ankerweg and Nantong facilities took over 1.8 million man-hours to build and commission, he added, and were accident-free throughout.
Phase two of Nantong’s lubricants production will begin in about a year’s time, he said. At that stage, the plant will begin blending Anderol brand synthetic lubricants for sale in China and possibly elsewhere in Asia. Its portfolio will grow to include compressor lubricants, refrigeration lubricants, gear oils, aviation oils and other high-performance industrial lubricants.