US-based chemicals producer
DuPont said at IM’s Fluorspar
2014 conference in Miami in mid-November that the spin-off of
its performance chemical business unit will boost growth in
The spin-off, which is expected to be completed
in July 2015, will enable the new company to optimise costs and
develop focused strategies and investments in the titanium
dioxide (TiO2), fluorochemical and fluoropolymer
The new company will be called Chemours and will
include four key businesses areas; TiO2,
fluorochemicals, fluoropolymers and industrial chemicals, David
Lavery, executive buyer at DuPont Chemicals and Fluoroproducts,
said at the conference.
Lavery told IM on the conference
side-lines that Chemours will be 66% self-owned and 33% owned
by DuPont, although Chemours will own all the patents of the
fluorochemical products developed by DuPont, including
Freon-22, refrigerants, fluoroelastomers, Teflon and fire
"DuPont has been completing a transition from a
chemical to a biotechnological company, through several
acquisitions of GM seeds and bio-based fuels developing
companies," he said.
"The big thing for us is the new generation of
hydrofluoroolefins (HFO)-based refrigerants," Lavery said,
adding that the mobile air-conditioning systems (MACs)
directive set in Europe has also been adopted by Japan and the
However, David said this will not imply a major
growth in hydrofluoric acid consumption for the production of
HFOs compared with that of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and that
the market will witness a replacement rather than a "stepping
He added, though, that HFOs prices would probably
increase compared with HFCs, owing to the lack of patent
protection and the novelty of the product.
"In the long term, we will then see a turning
point and eventually prices will go down and stabilise also for
HFOs," Lavery told IM.
Lavery said that the new HFO-based products
provide higher efficiency and low energy consumption in all
refrigerant sectors, as well as reducing power consumption.
DuPont, which has already introduced its HFO
1234-yf refrigerant in the automotive market under the brand
name of Opteon YF, is now planning to place its HFO 1336mzz
foam expansion agent and refrigerant in H2 2016 from its
facility in China.
DuPont said it expects 3m cars to use its Opteon
YF refrigerant by the end of 2014, with a rapid transition to
7m cars by the end of 2015. Lavery told IM
that, following Dupont’s previous collaboration
with Honeywell for the production of HFO-based refrigerants,
the new company may continue the collaboration, but it could
also be open to other partnerships to develop new
He added that the DuPont-Honeywell partnership
for the marketing of HFOs was conducted under the spirit of the
European Commission (EC) law to promote technical
collaborations for the development of new products.
However, in October, the companies were told by
the EC that their joint venture to manufacture a fluorine-based
refrigerant for cars may be anti-competitive under European
Union (EU) law.
"Although it might take two-to-three years to
bring the EC’s scrutiny to full resolution, we
believe that we have always respected the rules and we will
resolve the case," Lavery told IM.
He added that the present legal case will not
impact DuPont and Chemours’ HFO sales in the near
Lavery said that the global fluorochemical market
struggled in 2013-2014, due to weak demand and overcapacity,
but that it is beginning to shift.
He forecast an increase in fluorochemical demand
in the future, driven by rising demand for refrigerants in
developing economies, including India and China.
At the moment there is no a visible rebound in
fluorochemical prices, which will remain stable until next
year, and will increase by up to 10% by the end of 2015, Lavery
According to DuPont, fluorspar demand will
continue to soften due to ample supplies with persistent low
prices. However, the company said that it has concerns whether
low prices will ultima-tely affect sustainability and security
along the fluorspar supply chain.
The company said it encourages the development of
new fluorspar projects and it will be open to new suppliers, if
their projects ensure long term potential, reliable supply and
Lavery stressed the importance of controlling
impurities in the product, which can affect the efficiency of
some end products.
Lavery told IM that DuPont
considered the possibility of acquiring a fluorspar mine in the
1990s in order to become upstream integrated, but it stepped
back to focus on fluorochemical value-added products.
"When Chemours will be running we will reassess
the possibility of acquiring a mining project, especially in
view of potential risks in fluorspar supply," Lavery said.
"Although Chemours will not set immediately for
full vertical integration, this is something that cannot be
excluded in the future," he added.
Nickelhutte AUE GmbH starts acidspar
German chemicals producer Nickelhutte AUE
GmbH told IM on the
sidelines of this year’s Fluorspar
Conference, held in November in Miami, that it has
started the production of acidspar.
The company is eying production levels of
25,000 tpa, it confirmed.
Nickelhutte is producing the fluorspar
from a mine in the former East Germany mine which it
told IM it owns.
The only operating fluorspar mine in
Germany is the Clara mine, in Sachtleben, Oberwolfach,
which produces around 55,000 tpa in the south-west of
The market is growing however: the reopening of the
Thuringian Forest fluorspar operation in the
country’s Ilmenau region means that by the
end of 2014, a further 20,000-30,000 tonnes acidspar
could be being produced in the country.