Lubrizol Plans PIB Expansion


Lubrizol Corp. agreed to license polyisobutylene manufacturing technology from South Koreas Daelim Industrial and will use it to expand its PIB plant in Deer Park, Texas.

Lubrizol declined to discuss the cost or size of the project but said it should be finished in about three years.

Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol already makes conventional PIBs at Deer Par, but officials said they wanted the Daelim technology because it makes it possible to produce conventional and highly reactive PIBs at the same facility.

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.

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, said in a telephone interview. 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.

Lubrizol officials said they entered the deal with Daelim because of the benefits it provided to the companys PIB business.

Lubrizol had the opportunity and acted on it regardless of industry events, a spokesman said.

The Deer Park site currently has capacity to make 90,000 metric tons per year of PIB. Lubrizol also has a 50,000 t/y PIB plant in Le Havre, France, but said Deer Park will remain its hub for production of PIBs and dispersants.

PIB is produced by assembling chains of isobutylenes. According to Daelims 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 nontoxic 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.

The companys Yeosu plant is the worlds largest source of PIB, having capacity to make 140,000 t/y of conventional and HR-PIB.

Related Topics

Additives    Plants & Equipment    Plants & Facilities