Annual Review of Global C6/C8 & mLLDPE Markets
End-Use Applications Drive Growth for $45 Billion Plastic Additives Industry
Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) is composed of three types of ethylene copolymers based on the co-monomer used: ethylene/butene-1 copolymer, ethylene/hexene-1 copolymer, and ethylene/octene-1 copolymer.
The catalyst technologies for these products are all quite different. Standard HAO LLDPE, aka C6/C8 LLDPE typically uses a Ziegler catalyst with aluminum alkyl as co-catalyst, while mLLDPE requires metallocene catalysts and MAO (methylaluminoxane) or borates as activators. Hardware modifications are also needed to accommodate the catalyst system.
The metallocene catalyst basically contains a transition metal (e.g. Zr or Ti) complex of one or two cyclopentadienyl ligands. Hundreds of structural variations have been developed. For gas phase and slurry polymerizations, the complex is typically supported on an inert inorganic oxide material such as silica.
Plastics demand, and ultimately the applications driving this demand underpin the market for the $45 billion dollar plastics additives industry.
The forces of supply and demand, geographical shifts, and inter-material competition within individual end-use segments creates “pulls” for plastics additives. For example, the infrastructure buildup in emerging markets has resulted in major increases, particularly in PVC demand, and thus higher consumption for PVC additive packages including impact modifiers, heat stabilizers, lubricants, and secondary antioxidants.
Similarly, the growth of the E/E industry and related businesses in Asia and China has driven flame retardant demand toward those regions. Polyolefin packaging films continue to experience growth, especially in China. This enhances the use of such additives as nucleating/clarifying agents and slip agents.
Promising Developments in Methane to Ethylene Technology
On March 22, 2016, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), SABIC, and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly develop the new technology of “direct, non-oxidative conversion of methane to ethylene, aromatics, and hydrogen.” We consider this a significant step forward for the petrochemicals industry. China, the world’s second largest economy, has been relentlessly pursuing non-fossil based energy (e.g. solar, wind etc.) and alternate feedstocks (e.g. coal-to-olefins, shale gas, biomass etc.). As stipulated in China’s 13th five-year plan, the development of clean and economical feedstock is a mandate as it is crucial to the sustainability of China’s petrochemical and chemical industries. The direct conversion of methane to ethylene and aromatics is as it is crucial to the sustainability of China's petrochemical and chemical industries. Read More
Polypropylene: Technology Review
The shale-driven shift to light feedstocks, while dampened by lower oil prices, continues to drive numerous investments in the polyolefins value chain ranging from greenfield polyethylene plants to on-purpose propylene and methanol-to-olefins units driving the investment in new, greenfield, polypropylene plants. First in a multi-part series, the purpose of this article is to provide a high level overview of nine major commercial polypropylene technologies. For an in-depth review of the players, developments, markets and outlook for polypropylene please consult Townsend’s Annual Polypropylene Report.
Commercial production of polypropylene (PP) began in 1957. Today, PP is the second largest global volume polymer business and accounts for roughly 25% of total polymer demand. Over 61 million tonnes are consumed by markets ranging from automotive to medical, with China consuming almost one-third of total PP demand.
To manufacture homopolymer polypropylene, the following are required:
Snapshot: Polypropylene 2033
A Longer-Term View