Dow Chemical, Befar Group Work to Produce Refrigerant Component

Global demand for PCE as a feedstock is increasing for non-ozone-depleting fluorocarbon refrigerants

Dow President of Chemicals & Energy, Carol Williams, says a proposed joint refrigerant production venture with Binhua is a critical milestone toward fulfillment of the Company’s business strategy.

“We're pleased at the prospects of a new partnership with Binhua that aligns so well to both companies’ strategies and allows Dow to grow our manufacturing presence in China,” Williams says. “At the same time, the prospective partnership would increase our ability to meet the world’s rapidly expanding need for more sustainable product offerings, while continuing to provide a strong foundation for continued growth in our performance and market-driven businesses.”

Williams joined Dow in 1980, starting as an engineer in R&D for plastic films and foams in the Granville Research Center. In 1991, she worked in Louisiana Operations on the development of styrene butadiene/isoprene block copolymers as part of a Dow/Exxon joint partnership. In 1993, she took on the director's role for the Analytical Science Lab in Midland, Michigan. And in 1995, she moved to Texas as the global R&D director for the Epoxy Products and Intermediates Business. In 2005, she was named vice president of business development for Dow's Market Facing Businesses. She was named senior vice president of Basic Chemicals in January 2009.

In March, the Dow Chemical Company and Befar Group Co., Ltd. (Binhua) announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a new 50-50 joint venture to produce perchloroethylene (PCE), a key building block material for non-ozone depleting refrigerants used in industrial, automotive, consumer, commercial, building and construction, and other applications.

Under the MOU, the two companies will explore development of a new, world-scale, PCE manufacturing facility in Binzhou, Shandong Province, China. The new facility would have an initial target capacity of 40 kilotons per year, with the ability to double production to 80 kilotons. Assuming the terms and milestones of the MOU are met and subject to customary government approvals, Dow and Binhua estimate production would begin in 2014.

Peter Sykes, President of Dow Greater China, says the relationship with Binhua is important as it relates to Dow’s regional capabilities in China, to meet customer demand in this growing marketplace.

“Our collaboration with Binhua is a fine example of two great companies partnering to serve the needs of customers for high quality, reliable solutions,” Sykes says. “We look forward to jointly supporting the rapid China market growth in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.”

Zhang Zhongzheng, chairman of Binhua, reinforced the strategic importance of the proposed joint venture to the strategy of Binhua. He was convinced that both parties will work together toward a win-win situation, deepen the communication and cooperation, and build friendship through mutual trust for greater development.

“We cherish the precious opportunity to work with Dow and will work hard to keep our promises under this agreement. We will try our utmost to facilitate the execution and implementation of subsequent projects with Dow, and to boost our cooperation in a broader range of areas at higher levels in order to achieve substantial results. We sincerely hope that we can develop and grow together with Dow towards a mutually beneficial future," Zhongzheng says.

Global demand for PCE as a feedstock is increasing for non-ozone-depleting fluorocarbon refrigerants in industrial, automotive and home applications. In China, the market for PCE is growing rapidly, but to date, local supply has been limited. The proposed Dow-Binhua joint venture is designed to meet this significant market opportunity.

Befar's business ventures include salt-chemical, petrochemical, fine chemicals, port warehouse, culture, media and finance.

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Dow issued this background statement on request from ContractingBusiness.com:
"Dow produces a wide range of chemical compounds that are sold as raw materials to produce different refrigerants around the world. These refrigerant products are branded by the individual fluorochemical companies who produce them. The respective refrigerant products are then sold for use, either within the producing geographies or exported to other areas, to meet that producer’s demand from its customer base.

"Over the years, Dow has adjusted the mix of our chlorocarbon products offering to meet the changing market demands of our fluorochemical customers, as they have shifted their production from CFCs and HCFC’s to non-ODP HFCs. We are actively exploring new technologies so that Dow can continue to supply the necessary feedstocks to produce the low-GWP HFO’s that will be required in the future."

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