Celanese Chemicals today announced that it has achieved a major
breakthrough in its proprietary acid optimization technology for the production
of acetic acid. As a result of the breakthrough, output at the company's plant in
Clear Lake, Texas, has risen to record levels over the past several months. By
year-end, the new technology will be fully implemented, raising capacity by
20% to an annual 1.2 million metric tons. The required capital investment will
be less than $3 million.
"We are really pleased that our commitment to R&D has enabled us to develop
the new AO Plus technology. It makes what we believe was already the most
efficient means of producing acetic acid even more cost-effective," said John
O'Dwyer, head of the Acetyl Products business segment. "Furthermore, higher
production levels have provided us with additional acetic acid with which to
supply our Asian customers."
As a result of the increase in production at Clear Lake, which coincides with an
improvement in operating rates at the company's 500,000 metric ton acetic acid
plant in Singapore, Celanese has fully resumed the supply of acetic acid and
vinyl acetate to its Asian customers, as reported last week. In September,
Celanese had declared force majeure due to an outside supplier's declared
force majeure resulting in an inability to produce a reliable, ongoing supply of
carbon monoxide (CO) to the Singapore plant. Recently, the CO supply has
improved and specific plans to achieve satisfactory operating rates are expected
in the third quarter.
Celanese has also reached agreement on compensation in the amount of Euro
35 million for losses suffered as a result of the operating problems at the
Singapore acetic acid plant for the time up to March 31, 2001.
According to the Tecnon Consulting World Network Acetic Acid and Vinyl
Acetate 1999-2009 World Survey, Celanese Chemicals is the world's leading
producer of vinyl acetate monomer and acetic acid. The company's success is
largely based on its highly efficient acid optimization technology, which
employs the carbonylation of methanol. Research has already yielded a long
history of improvements to this technology and allowed Celanese to expand the
capacity of its Clear Lake plant from 590,000 metric tons in 1995 to 1 million
tons in 1999 at very low cost.