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LLDPE - Linear low density polyethylene

LLDPE is a substantially linear polymer with significant numbers of short branches, commonly made by copolymerization of ethylene with short-chain alpha-olefins (for example, 1-butene, 1-hexene and 1-octene). LLDPE has higher tensile strength than LDPE, it exhibits higher impact and puncture resistance than LDPE. Lower thickness (gauge) films can be blown, compared with LDPE, with better environmental stress cracking resistance but is not as easy to process.

LLDPE is a polyethylene with a density < 965 kg/m,produced by a low pressure process.LLDPE is defined by a density range of 0.915–0.925 g/cm3 and its melting point is 122-127 °C. There are three broad types of polymerization processes based on the phase of reactants and products. They are gas-phase process, solution phase process and slurry phase process.

LLDPE was invented by DuPont in the late 1950's. DuPont Canada is also credited with operating the world’s first commercial LLDPE line, built in Corunna, Ont., in 1960. This 275 million-lb/yr. “Sclair” resin unit was later acquired by Nova Chemicals, which shut it down in 2004. DuPont Canada produced Sclair resins for film, injection, and rotational molding but did not introduce them to the U.S. market until about 1976 and then initially only for rotomolding. Several other companies launched LLDPEs at about the same time in 1977 and ’78. Dow Chemical began sampling a number of grades in 1977, using technology derived from its low-pressure HDPE process

Major Licensors of technology for LLDPE include Ineos, Basell, Mitsui and Westlake. Gas Phase technology is given by INEOS Technologies’ unimodal INNOVENE G swing process, which offers its condensing mode Enhanced High Performance (EHP) technology. LyondellBasells bimodal and unimodalSPHERILENE process developed for LLDPE and now capable of producing HDPE products, including a discussion of the LUPOTECH G process. Mitsui’s bimodal EVOLUE process developed for metallocene LLDPE products. Univation’s unimodal UNIPOL swing process, which offers its Super Condensing Mode Technology (SCM-T), and its new bimodal HDPE process based upon a single reactor and novel catalyst system. Westlake’s ENERGX technology developed for installation in gas phase LLDPE plants.

The Dow Chemical Company, ExxonMobil, SABIC, IPIC, SINOPEC group, PetroChina Group, Japan PE/Mitsubishi, Braskem Group, Petro Rabigh/Sumitomo, NPC Iran, Formosa Plastics and Reliance Industries Ltd are some of leading producers of LLDPE. LLDPE demand on the global market is moving steadily forward – its growth is driven largely by the developing LLDPE industries in the countries of Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe. The application share of LLDPE that belongs to the Asian region makes up approximately 42% and is forecast to lead the demand, while the mature markets of North America and Europe experience rather limited LLDPE demand increase and they are reported to have reached the market saturation levels. Therefore LLDPE capacity additions are restricted on these markets.

The global consumption volume of LLDPE is projected to increase by 4-4.5% annually through 2017. Large input in the demand rise belongs to the packaging and construction industries. Moreover lucrative capacity additions scheduled for the developing markets are sure to further drive the LLDPE industry growth. The nameplate capacity of LLDPE plant in 2006 was 20 MMT which has gone upto to 22 MMT currently.

The global capacity of LLDPE is 28 MT and demand is 22 MMT. The capacity is expected to increase to 35 MMT in 2016 with demand reaching 30 MMT. In India total LLDPE capacity is expected to reach 1960 KTA by 2016-17 and Reliance Industries Ltd has planned capacity expansion to 970 KTA by 2016-17 followed by GAIL 300 KTA, OPAL 300 KTA, IOCL 175 KTA, HPL 150 KTA and BPCL Assam GC 65 KTA. North America, Western Europe, the Middle East and China accounted for slightly over 80% of total world LLDPE capacity in 2010. Based on new swing capacity additions, world capacity is expected to increase by about 20% by 2015. By 2015 the Middle East and Canada will be the largest net exporters of LLDPE. Major net importers will be Western Europe and China.

LLDPE price touched its lowest level in last five years in Nov’08 – 770$/MT-SE Asia prices while in May’12 LLDPE prices touched 1323$ MT corresponding to Crude 107.31 $/Barrel and Naphtha 886 $/MT.

LLDPE is used for plastic bags and sheets (where it allows using lower thickness than comparable LDPE), plastic wrap, stretch wrap, pouches, toys, covers, lids, pipes, buckets and containers, covering of cables, geomembranes, and mainly flexible tubing.

Loop Process:

Loop process is primarily an HDPE-dedicated process. However, in recent years, technology improvements have enabled its use in the production of LLDPE, principally through the introduction of a metallocene catalyst.

Gas Phase Process:

The Gas phase process is often referred to as a “swing” process because both LLDPE and HDPE can be produced with the same equipment.



Gas Phase technology is given by INEOS Technologies’ unimodal INNOVENE G swing process, which offers its condensing mode Enhanced High Performance (EHP) technology. LyondellBasells bimodal and unimodalSPHERILENE process developed for LLDPE and now capable of producing HDPE products, including a discussion of the LUPOTECH G process. Mitsui’s bimodal EVOLUE process developed for metallocene LLDPE products. Univation’s unimodal UNIPOL swing process, which offers its Super Condensing Mode Technology (SCM-T), and its new bimodal HDPE process based upon a single reactor and novel catalyst system. Westlake’s ENERGX technology developed for installation in gas phase LLDPE plants.
   


Capacity (kt) Actual Projected
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
RIL 420 420 420 420 970 970
GAIL 90 90 300 300 300 300
HPL 150 150 150 150 150 150
IOCL 175 175 175 175 175 175
OPAL 0 0 0 300 300 300
BPCL-Assam GC     65 65 65 65
Total 835 835 1110 1410 1960 1960


Producer LLDPE: India Demand Supply
Actual Projected
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
(kt)  
Capacity 835 835 1110 1410 1960 1960
Prod/Cons 1004 1070 1220 1715 2265 2265
Imports 238 270 270 200 140 140
Exports 45 21 12 260 551 329
Consumption 1198 1319 1478 1655 1854 2076
             
Cons Growth (%)   10% 12% 12% 12% 12%



Total LLDPE Consumption in 2011-12 →1047 Kt

LLDPE (Kt) 10-11 11-12 % Share % Growth
Butene Film 592 600 57% 1.4%
HAO Film 126 128 12% 1.6%
Roto Moulding 111 112 11% 0.9%
High Flow 103 104 10% 1.0%
Extrusion Coating 83 84 8% 1.2%
Others 22 19 2% -14%
LLDPE 1037 1047   1.0%

 
 
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