The Catalyst Review June 2020 - 13

SPECIAL FEATURE
The overall silanes market has been evaluated to grow from $2.3 billion in 2017 to $3.9 billion by 2024 (Pulidindi, 2018). The major
silanes market players usually are involved in the complete product supply chain including research and product development, raw
material supply, manufacturing, distribution and sale and post-sales services.
As said, the main commercial catalyst's supports are MgCl2, magnesium compounds, and silica. Evonik offers to catalyst
manufacturers Catylen S 300, a support material based on magnesium ethanolate MgCl2(EtOH), which is generated in precisely the
particle size required for a specific process and thereby eliminates a complex sieving production step. As discussed, the use of MgCl2
as a reactive catalyst support was a revolutionary improvement in ZN catalysis and allowed to improve dramatically the catalyst
performance and control the polymer particle size and shape. Catalyst particle size distribution (PSD) plays a special role, particularly
in the polymerization of polyolefins, since polymer particles adopt the shape of catalyst particles. This so called replica effect ensures
that the shape and size of particles as well as the PSD of the catalyst are directly reflected in the polymer. The polymerization
reaction takes place at the active centers that are distributed over the entire catalytic particle, both on the surface and in the interior.
Since particles have to fragment and expand evenly in all directions, no uncontrolled breakup of catalyst particles must occur during
this step. After all, unintended fragments (fines) would ultimately have the effect of additional nucleation sources for new polymer
particles, which would significantly interfere with their particle size distribution (Evonik, 2019). The family of silica supports in
particle form are used by polyolefin manufacturers as carriers for catalytic compounds, critical to manufacturing mainly PE. In this
application, the silica acts as more than a carrier of catalytic agents but also as an active participant in the polymerization process.
Commercial offering of specific silicas can have a profound effect on the overall performance and economics of a catalyst system
and final properties of the finished polymer. In the production of polymers, the surface area, pore volume, and pore diameter of the
catalyst support strongly influences the polymerization characteristics (e.g. activity) and final polymer properties (e.g., melt index and
environmental stress crack resistance). Accurate control of the particle size distribution is also extremely important since the growing
polymer replicates the shape and size distribution of the silica catalyst particles. Then, size and shape of silica supports have a major
effect on controlling the final polymer size and morphology (PQ, 2019). Key players of the support market, as described, are Evonik,
Toho, Grace, and PQ.
During the last few years, many significant M&A and market moves have happened in the catalyst component industry, as follows:
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AkzoNobel (AN) Specialty Chemicals spin-off, including polymer catalyst and co-catalyst organo-aluminum business, has been
renamed Nouryon following its sale to the Carlyle Croup and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund (GIC) during 2018 (Noel, 2018).
AkzoNobel today remains more focused on its coatings and paints businesses.
Nouryon, after the spin-off from AN, has acquired Zhejiang Friend Chemical, the largest Chinese producer of TEAL. This
acquisition includes products, technology, customer lists and a manufacturing site in Jiaxing, located 100 kilometers southwest
of Shanghai.The acquisition substantially raises Nouryon's global TEAL production and strengthen its position as a leading global
producer of TEAL with manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe and North America (Nouryon, 2019)
Lanxess as part of its company business strategy, at the end of 2018 sold its 50% stake in elastomer/rubber global leader
Arlanxeo to Saudi Aramco (Alsharif, 2018) remaining more focused on its current core specialty chemicals businesses. Lanxess
had completed during 2017 the acquisition of Chemtura, leader in the specialty chemicals field including organometallics widely
used as activator co-catalysts.
Grace finalized in 2018 the acquisition of the polyolefin catalysts business of Albemarle that includes proprietary and custom
manufactured single-site catalysts as well as metallocenes and MAO activators and a comprehensive series of highly optimized
Ziegler-Natta catalysts for polyethylene production (Digital Refining, 2018). Albemarle remains more focused in its other business
including the organo-aluminum co-catalysts.
LyondellBasell announced it would undertake a significant plant investment in the US through 2022 regarding the expansion of
its ZN polyolefin catalyst capacity in Edison, NJ to support the growing polyolefins technology licensing business (Chang, 2019).
Sumitomo Chemical has completed during 2019 the construction of a new PP catalyst manufacturing line in its Chiba Works
location in Japan to meet the demand of its PP manufacturing technology licensees, including the affiliates The Polyolefin
Company (Singapore) and Petro Rabigh in Saudi Arabia (Sumitomo, 2019).

References

Ali S. (2019) "Polymerization Catalysts: Technology Advances and Market" TCR November 2019
Ali S. (2015). "Polyolefin Catalyst Technology Overview." The Catalyst Review (28) 5: 6-13
Alsharif A. (2018) "Saudi Aramco buys remaining 50 percent of rubber joint venture from Lanxess" Reuters December 31, 2018
Carlos RDS et al. (2018) "Ziegler-Natta Catalyst Based on MgCl₂/Clay/ID/TiCl₄ for the Synthesis of Spherical Particles of Polypropylene
Nanocomposites" PubMed.gov July 1, 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29442704
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June 2020

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http://www.PubMed.gov https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29442704

The Catalyst Review June 2020

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