Update 9-7-2013: Mitsui Chemicals reported on a press release that the new joint venture, which will be based in Gujarat, India, will construct a 8 ktpy castor oil-based polyol facility. Production will commence on January 2015.
Mitsui said they are the world’s only commercial supplier of non-edible plant derived bio-polyol. The JV will make bio-polyol cost competitive with fossil-derived polyol allowing Mitsui Chemicals to target further expansion of automotive application sales on its own and through its six system houses strategically located throughout Asia
India-based castor derivatives manufacturer Jayant Agro plans to form a joint venture with Japan-based Mitsui Chemicals and Itoh Oil Chemicals — a manufacturer of castor oil-based specialty chemicals. The joint venture called Vithal Castor Polyols Pvt. Ltd. will focus on manufacturing castor oil-based polyols.
Jayant Agro will have 50% of the JV’s equity stake, Mitsui will acquire 40% and Itoh Oil with 10%. Details of the project are still being worked out, according to the companies.
If the blog recalled in 2008, Itoh Oil Chemicals acquired a small equity stake (about 5%) of Jayant Agro worth $1.6m at that time. Also in 2008, Jayant Agro formed a joint venture with Mitsui & Co. called Ihsedu Specialty Chemicals Pvt. Ltd., which is now manufacturing castor oil-based specialty chemicals in India.
In 2011, Jayant Agro bought back Mitsui’s 24% share of Ihsedu Specialty Chemicals, and the company became Jayant Agro’s wholly-owned subsidiary. Mitsui & Co. entered a non-exclusive distributorship agreement with Ihsedu Specialty Chemicals and Jayant Agro for the distribution of Ihsedu’s products.
With the blog’s coverage of the polyamides and polyols sectors, castor oil is seeing a comeback in demand from these markets.
In April 2013, France-based specialty chemical firm Arkema has acquired a 25% stake in Ihsedu Agrochem, which processes castor seeds into oil and has been one of Arkema’s main suppliers. Arkema said Jayant Agrochem will provide long-term secure and competitive access to castor oil — a strategic raw material for Arkema’s manufacture of biobased polyamides.
The blog is not sure if Arkema also manufactures castor-based polyols. However, I do recall BASF producing castor oil-based polyols under the trademark Lupranol Balance 50.