Naco to Stream PAO in China


Thanks to the startup this month of a polyalphaolefin plant in China, the world is getting a fresh source of high-viscosity PAO. By early July, officials with Naco Lubrication Co. Ltd. told Lube Report, their Shanghai facility will be making commercial volumes of high-viscosity PAO and other components used in making synthetic lubricants.

This marks the third new high-vis PAO plant to come on stream within a year, and follows hot on the heels of ExxonMobil Chemical’s metallocene PAO plant in Baytown, Texas, which opened about two months ago and has 50,000 metric tons a year of capacity. In October, Chemtura completed construction of a plant in Ankerweg, Netherlands, with initial capacity of 5,000 t/y of conventional high-vis PAO; it eventually will reach 15,000 t/y.

The China plant will join these other new-builds in meeting the worlds growing appetite for high-quality lubricants and additives, indicated Zhongwen Liu, deputy general manager of Naco Lubrication. In addition to 15,000 metric tons per year of PAO, the plant will have capacity to make 10,000 tons of alkylated naphthalene, alkyl benzene and other specialties.

The facility will make three high-vis PAO grades, explained Qingcai Liu, manager of Nacos marketing department. Sold under the SinoSyn trademark, these include a 150 centiStoke PAO that is intended to appeal to lubricant manufacturers in China, for making products such as SAE 20W-50 heavy-duty diesel engine oils.

Other grades, including 40 and 100 cSt PAO, and a light-colored alkylated naphthalene (AN23) will be made available to markets outside China, starting with North America. These synthetic base oils are used in engine oils, industrial gear oils and lubricating greases.

Novitas Chem Solutions, which is based in Bellaire, Texas, near Houston, has been signed to represent Naco’s synthetic products in North America. Novitas itself manufactures specialty additives such as the antiwear agent TPPT (triphenyl thiophosphate). According to Liwen Wei, Novitas managing director, Naco took care to put a supply chain in place to ensure it has access to decene, the building block chemical needed for making PAO.

“With the intent to secure sufficient olefin supplies, Naco Synthetics formed a 50/50 joint venture with Luan Group at the Tunliu coal-to-liquids complex, located in Changzhi City, Shanxi province,” Wei told Lube Report. Through this venture, Naco expects to secure 10,000 tons of olefins supply, he added.

Naco has done business as an international trading company since 1998, and is one of Chinas largest importers and distributors of polyisobutylene used in lubricant manufacturing, according to Zhongwen Liu.

Zhongwen Liu and Qingcai Lui spoke with Lube Report in mid-May, during the annual meeting and exhibition of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, in Orlando, Fla. They had traveled there to unveil their products on the world stage, and were brimming with excitement to see their plans coming to fruition, after three years of effort.

The new plant, located in the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park, is the company’s first move into manufacturing, but it wont be its last, Zhongwen Liu said. Naco next plans to open a sister PAO plant in Chinas Shangxi province, possibly during 2015.

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