15 March 2004 00:01 [Source: ACN]
ASAHI Kasei Chemicals may debottleneck its 330 000 tonne/year styrene plant in Mizushima, Japan, in 2-3 years by at least 100 000 tonne/year, a company source told ACN. He added that the debottlenecking would be at a very low cost. The 330 000 tonne/year plant underwent trial runs in November, with commercial production starting in early February.
In addition, the Japanese major may decide to scrap its 150 000 tonne/year styrene plant, also in Mizushima, in 2-3 years, if it decides to go ahead with the debottlenecking. ACN’s sister service, CNI, reported in January that Asahi had postponed scrapping the non-worldscale plant because of better markets. Asahi’s other styrene plant, with a capacity of 300 000 tonne/year also at Mizushima, would continue to operate.
‘The plant is profitable at present because of the current styrene and benzene spread. However, this might not always be the case,’ the source added.
Asahi’s new styrene output is not feeding any downstream expansions. Its domestic PS capacity remains at 200 000 tonne/year and its overseas capacity is 120 000 tonne/year. In Japan, the producer’s acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene capacity is 80 000 tonne/year, its styrene-butadiene rubber capacity is 220 000 tonne/year and its styrene-butadiene latex capacity is 80 000 tonne/year.
The Japanese major, therefore, currently captively consumes 45% of styrene output with 20% sold domestically and the remainder exported.
ASAHI Kasei Chemicals is developing a new propylene-rich process using C4s and C5s as feedstock which would involve construction of a fixed bed catalytic cracker (FBCC). The process would also yield some ethylene.
The company is considering building a test plant based on the new process. It is likely to be built in Mizushima, Japan, if the company goes ahead with it.
‘We currently operate this type of FBCC to produce aromatics, and have done so since 1993. The FBCC for the propylene process would use a new catalyst,’ said a company source. The extra propylene would help Asahi reduce a C3 feedstock deficit that currently stands at 400 000 tonne/year at its acrylonitrile plants.
How much extra propylene would be produced has yet to be determined, and no startup date has been set for the proposed test plant.
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