🏭 Filtered by PVDF

Toray’s carbon fiber expansion, Arkema’s PVDF for water filtration, and styrofoam cups.


Good morning. Are you familiar with the materials used for the tanks on LNG vessels? I have some questions for you!

From the condenser:
· Toray’s carbon fiber expansion
· Arkema’s PVDF for water filtration
· POTD: styrofoam cups

More hydrogen means more carbon fiber

Japanese chemical company, Toray, announced that it is expanding its carbon fiber production capacity at its sites in Spartanburg, South Carolina and Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea.

Carbon fiber 101:
At a very high level, you can think of carbon fiber production in terms of four big steps: first, get your hands on some acrylonitrile (aka ACN, which we get by reacting propylene with some ammonia and oxygen), then polymerize that ACN to make polyacrylonitrile (PAN), then produce the PAN equivalent of yarn by spinning it mechanically into filaments, and then heat up that PAN yarn to drive off all of the non-carbon atoms and boom: carbon fiber.

So, an expansion?
The two plant expansions will increase Toray’s total global carbon fiber production by 20%, bringing them up to about 38,000 tons per year. How exactly that production will be split between the two sites is unclear. But in any case both expansions are targeting completion in 2025.

Zooming out:
Toray is anticipating demand for carbon fiber to “expand by 17% annually on a decarbonization megatrend”, which effectively means that their plant expansion should cover a year’s worth of market growth. The “decarbonization megatrend” is code for “a trend toward utilizing gases stored at high pressure” like liquefied hydrogen and natural gas (LNG), but not for all applications (e.g. not necessarily for shipping overseas, but perhaps for transporting hydrogen via truck).


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Arkema’s PVDF for filtering water

French specialty chemical company, Arkema, has found a new application for polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) in autonomous water treatment.

The context you need:
PVDF is a fluoropolymer traditionally produced by polymerizing vinylidene fluoride—an HFO that can trace its roots to the combination of petroleum-based hydrocarbons and halogen gases. The polymer has recently seen more attention because of applications in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) as a cathode binder, anode binder, and separator coating.

Wait, autonomous water treatment?
Arkema has been selling its PVDF to Polymem, who has been using it to produce some ultrafiltration membranes, which is of interest to Tergys, who sells modular systems that utilizes solar energy and biomass to produce clean water (either via pre-treatment, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, or chlorination).

Bigger picture:
As the global capacity for PVDF expands due to demand from a single application (batteries), the cost of production declines and the ability to deliver large quantities of PVDF improves. The net result is that more applications become more feasible, and given enough scale and time, the polymer is slowly commoditized.

Some more headlines

  • There was a fire at Dow Chemical's site in Plaquemine, Louisiana

  • Austria's OMV and Abu Dhabi's Adnoc are considering a merger

  • Kraton appointed new presidents for its polymer and pine chemical businesses

  • Shell and PreZero (a plastic waste pre-processor) signed an agreement

  • TotalEnergies and its partners made the FID on their south Texas LNG project

Product of The Day

Today, we're breaking down styrofoam cups.

Styrofoam cups is a bit of a misnomer. Technically these cups are made of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) and not Dow Chemical's trademarked Styrofoam that is made of extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). The only difference between these materials is the way in which the closed-cell foam is manufactured (to be clear, both EPS and XPS are made of polystyrene).

These cups have gotten a bad rap for the last few decades because EPS takes just about forever to degrade. The flip side to that is that EPS is about 95% air, so on a per-cup basis we’re not using very much mass to hold liquids, which, at least in principle is a good thing. But it goes further—low density means that collecting this stuff for recycling is inefficient on a per truck basis.

The reboiler

  • Safety Moment: Watch this case study from the CSB to learn about the ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas.

  • Book: Admittedly, Perry's Handbook isn't cheap… but nobody has ever regretted buying this thing.*

  • Podcast: Chemical engineers can work in beer industry—listen to Daniel Garza's experience if you're interested.

The bottoms


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