Shell invests in diphenyl carbonate demonstration unit for polycarbonate industry
Dec 8, 2011
Shell today announced an investment decision to build a 500-tonne per year demonstration unit to manufacture the chemical intermediate diphenyl carbonate (DPC).
The unit will be located at Shell’s chemical plant in Singapore’s petrochemical hub on Jurong Island. It will manufacture sufficient volumes of DPC1 via a proprietary process2, to supply selected customers in the polycarbonate industry for their evaluation and acceptance.
Ben van Beurden, Executive Vice President, Shell Chemicals, said: “This investment decision is an important step towards commercialising DPC as a new product for Shell Chemicals. The polycarbonate industry has enjoyed good demand growth3 and Shell’s advantaged route to polycarbonate production can provide the platform for us to become a major supplier of feedstock to the industry.”
“Shell already supplies phenol and acetone to the polycarbonate sector. DPC produced via a phosgene-free route has the potential to become a significant intermediate and fits well with our strategy, portfolio and customer base,” van Beurden added.
Shell has filed a number of patents for its DPC process. It has also developed innovative transport solutions4 beyond the current industry supply model to be able to supply DPC to customers wherever they choose to invest in polycarbonate. Shell is already working closely with partners in the polycarbonate industry to discuss their needs.
For further information, please contact:
Mr Yam-Chew Oh
External Communications Adviser – Industry
Tel: +44 20 7934 2253 / +44 7837 955 995
Notes to editors
1. DPC is a key intermediate in the production of polycarbonate – a versatile and growing engineering plastic used in a wide variety of applications, from optical media, household items, automotive components to electronics and sheeting/film.
2. Shell’s route to DPC is phosgene-free and is expected to have significant advantages in terms of cost, safety, efficiency and CO2 footprint. The process, piloted at Shell’s network of research centres around the world, comprises a number of innovative approaches in design and catalysis. Historically, most polycarbonate production used phosgene – a highly hazardous material that requires stringent safety procedures – via a complex process with critical manufacturing issues, such as waste disposal, environmental drawbacks, capital and energy intensity. In recent years, DPC has replaced phosgene and now almost all polycarbonate investments require DPC as feedstock.
3. Global demand for polycarbonate in 2011 is around 3.6 million tonnes – larger than the market for nylon – and is growing at 4-5% per year. (Source: CMAI)
4. In Shell’s newly-patented supply chain, DPC is blended with acetone to allow for liquid shipping, thereby providing customers with both raw materials.
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