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May 3rd, 2013

Ceramics and glass business news of the week

Published on May 3rd, 2013 | By: Eileen De Guire

Corning announces expansion of clean-air products facilities

Corning Inc. announced that its board of directors has approved a capital expenditure plan of approximately $250 million to increase manufacturing capacity of the company’s diesel emissions control products. The majority of the investment will increase capacity at the Erwin diesel facility near Corning, which manufactures large ceramic substrates and filters for heavy-duty diesel engine, truck, construction, and agricultural equipment manufacturers worldwide. “Important heavy-duty regulations in China and Europe, as well as for non-road vehicles, take effect over the next two years which could double demand for our products by 2017,” says Mark Beck, executive vice president, Corning Environmental Technologies & Life Sciences Business Group. Corning’s diesel plant in Erwin began manufacturing large substrates in 2004 and now also produces particulate filters for heavy-duty applications. The company has already completed two facility expansions to accommodate global market growth. Corning said spending on the $250 million project will occur over a three-year period and will not change the company’s previous capital spending forecasts for 2013 and 2014. The latest project is expected to be operational in 2015 and to create an additional 250 new full-time positions if market demand grows as expected.

Infab Refractories: Excelling in a hot market

Infab Refractories Inc. is a descendant of Eastern Refractories Co, which opened a branch office in Lewiston on Holland Street in the 1940s. The Lewiston satellite was located strategically with a rail siding, for delivery of the refractory firebricks needed to service the boilers of various power plants, paper mills and manufacturing plants. The company was sold to a national contractor in the late ’90s and was soon re-sold, becoming employee owned in 2004. David Collins, the principle owner of Infab Refractories, is the grandson of the first regional manager of Eastern Refractories, Ted Collins. Infab Refractories has expanded its client base through the manufacture of custom-made, removable insulation blankets and various other high-temperature products under the direction of owner Jean (John) Bergeron and former owner Dick Marston at their current location on the corner of Whipple and Summer streets in Lewiston.

Minerals Technologies reports Q1 earnings of $0.53 per share, a 4 percent increase over 2012

Minerals Technologies Inc. (reported net income of $18.8 million, or $0.53 per share for the first quarter 2013, compared with $18.0 million, or $0.51 per share in the first quarter of 2012, a 4-percent increase. “We began 2013 with solid operating performance, which generated a record in profit for both Minerals Technologies and our Specialty Minerals segment,” says Joseph C. Muscari, executive chair. “During the quarter we saw organic growth from new satellites ramping up in Asia, and we also announced three new commercial agreements for our FulFill technology, two in North America and one in South America.” The company’s worldwide sales declined 2 percent to $251.3 million from $257.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. Foreign exchange had an unfavorable impact of 1 percentage point of this decline, and two fewer days in the quarter affected sales by an additional 2 percentage points. Operating income was $27.1 million, a 1-percent increase over the $27.0 million recorded in the prior year’s first quarter.

Fiber cement has cost and durability on its side

(Washington Post) Fiber cement, a century-old material, has become popular in recent decades as a cheaper, more durable alternative to wood siding. It used to be reinforced with asbestos until the 1980s, when that hazardous substance was eliminated from its manufacture. Now the material is typically made with cement, sand, wood fibers and additives. In recent years, designs made from the mixture have expanded from wood-grained boards to paneling resembling brick, stone and stucco, and contemporary furnishings. “We use it on about 90 to 95 percent of our remodeling and addition projects,” says Bill Millholland, executive vice president of Case Design and Remodeling of Bethesda. “I can’t think of much we are doing that is not fiber cement. It looks like real wood siding, but it doesn’t decay, and it’s fire-resistant.” James Hardie Industries is the largest producer of the material in the country, and its HardiePlank siding “has become the Kleenex of fiber cement,” Millholland says.

Tanzania: Cement output to double in two years

(Tanzania Daily News) Tanzania’s total cement production is expected to more than double over the next two years, thanks to the new entrants, which expect to amplify competition. The current four firms that produce Twiga, Simba, Rhino and Tembo brands have a combined installed annual capacity of 3.75 million [metric] tons and output is expected to reach 8.65 million tons per year in 2015. The new producers are Dangote Cement, Lake Cement, and Lee Building Material plus the existing firms’ expansion expected to boost production by 4.9 million tons per annum. Tanzania Securities’ CEO, Moremi Marwa, says the firms are taking advantages of increased cement demand pushed by construction activities that grew at an annual average rate of eight per cent over the past five years. “We expect local demand to grow at over 10 per cent if infrastructure investments are sustained at the current levels and the economic momentum remains as projected,” Marwa says. The demand, currently standing at four million tons, has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent over the past five years to 2012. “We note that Tanzania is currently a net importer of cement, importing about 500,000 tons per annum or 12 per cent of the total consumption,” the CEO says in a cement analysis report. He adds, “We estimate that current sector utilization of the installed capacity is 90 per cent, offering minimal room for upside unless the projected new capacity is added.”

New battery anode with four times the capacity of conventional materials

XG Sciences Inc. announced today that it has launched a new generation of anode materials for lithium-ion batteries with four times the capacity of conventional anodes. The new anode material is produced through proprietary manufacturing processes and uses the company’s xGnP graphene nanoplatelets to stabilize silicon particles in a nano-engineered composite structure. The material displays dramatically improved charge storage capacity with good cycle life and high efficiencies. “We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of this new high-capacity anode product,” says Rob Privette, vice president of energy markets. “Our new silicon-graphene anode material, when used in combination with our existing xGnP graphene products as conductive additives, provides significantly higher energy storage than conventional battery materials. This is great news for applications like smartphones, tablet computers, stationary power and vehicle electrification that use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. We are working with battery makers to translate this exciting new material into batteries with longer run-time, faster charging and smaller sizes than today’s batteries.” Privette says that the exact performance of the new anode materials will depend on the specific battery formulations used by the cell manufacturer, noting that XGS has demonstrated capacity of 1500 mAh/g with low irreversible capacity loss and stable cycling performance in life tests.

3M LED Advanced Light and 3M Molecular Detection System honored with Edison awards

3M announced that two of its recent technologies have received prestigious honors from the Edison Awards, a program conducted by the non-profit organization Edison Universe, which is dedicated to fostering future innovators. The company’s 3M LED Advanced Light received a Gold Edison Award in the Lighting category while the 3M Molecular Detection System earned a Silver Edison Award within the Diagnostic/Analytic Systems category. Nominees were judged by a panel of more than 3,000 leading business executives including previous winners, academics, and leaders in the fields of product development, design, engineering, science and medicine. The evaluation criteria used for this comprehensive, peer-reviewed process emphasized themes of concept, value, delivery and impact. The 3M LED Advanced Light—the company’s first-ever bulb—couldn’t be more appropriate for an innovation award named after Thomas Edison. The 3M LED Advanced Light provides an option that’s just as bright as a traditional bulb, and with its special Light Guide Technology, it shines in all directions. Developed with 3M multilayer optical film, adhesives and heat management technologies, the stylish bulb provides long-term cost savings but doesn’t compromise on energy efficiency.


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