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Shell’s move into commercial-scale production of controversial polycarbonate?

Shell’s move into commercial-scale production of *controversial polycarbonate?

Shell makes move into commercial-scale polycarbonate production

January 13, 2020

Shell has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. Ltd. (CNOOC) to explore its first commercial-scale polycarbonate (PC) production unit. The facility would be located at the CNOOC and Shell Petrochemical Co. joint-venture chemicals complex in Huizhou, China. As an interim step, Shell has started constructing a PC development unit at its Jurong Island chemicals plant in Singapore.

The venture is described as a key part of Shell’s growth strategy articulated around an expanded and differentiated product range. Global demand for PC is growing at a compound annual rate of 5.9% and the market is projected to reach $28.8 billion by 2026, according to analysis from Reports and Data. The polymer is suited for applications requiring impact and high-temperature resistance and optical transparency. It is used in the fabrication of eyewear, electrical and electronic components, automotive parts and numerous other products.

Shell’s entry into the PC market “is an example of our customer-led growth strategy in action,” said Thomas Casparie, Executive Vice President of Shell’s global chemicals business, in a prepared statement. “We have an advantaged route to production and are looking at investment in a number of commercial-scale units to serve the growing number of polycarbonate customers.”

Shell said that it will combine its patented diphenyl carbonate (DPC) process technology, which reportedly achieves significant advantages in cost, safety, efficiency and CO2 footprint, with melt-phase PC technology licensed from EPC Engineering & Technology GmbH in Germany.

Shell’s PC production units will also produce alkyl carbonates. These are used for lithiumion batteries which support the energy transition.


*Related Wikipedia article discusses Potential hazards in food contact applications and environmental impact.

Also see: A Common Plastic Comes Under Scrutiny

*…research has raised concerns over the health effects of a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate — bisphenol A (BPA). Some studies have found that BPA can leak trace amounts from polycarbonate containers and resin linings into foods and beverages. In tests on lab animals, BPA appears to copy or disturb the hormone estrogen and affect the reproductive system. This could possibly raise the risk for cancer. Infants and young children are at greatest risk because they eat and drink more than adults

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