Energy Code Challenge: EPS Supply Squeeze

Originally published by: PlattsApril 27, 2012

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Compliance with various energy code provisions may become more difficult in the short-term, based on this recent development in Europe:

An expandable polystyrene (EPS) supply squeeze is on the horizon and it appears inevitable, market participants said this week, amid a global shortage of cyclododecatriene (CDT) and a lack of alternatives for the hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) market.

What began on March 31 as the unexpected outage of a chemicals plant at Marl, in Germany, has now been felt in the automotive, building and construction industries.

On that day, Evonik shut its CDT unit at Marl following a blast which killed two employees. On April 11, there was a [halt on] supplies by one of the world's three major producers and the only HBCD producer in Europe -- ICL Industrial Products.

A company spokesman at ICL-IP said it was likely the HBCD plant at Terneuzen, in the Netherlands, which had been running on existing CDT inventories, would be shut by this week as stocks run out. The company is "eagerly trying to source for alternatives" for CDT, but due to very specific quality and specifications requirements, there are currently no options, he said.

CDT is a key component in the manufacture of HBCD, the key flame-retardant agent in making FR grade EPS.

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