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Nexen Tire and Mubadala Investment Company sign memorandum of understanding  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Seoul, South Korea - Nexen Tire and Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), the Abu Dhabi strategic investment fund, signed a memorandum of understanding to explore strategic partnership opportunities. Mubadala has made a direct investment into Nexen as part of the agreement. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director and group CEO of Mubadala, and Travis Kang, CEO of Nexen Tire, signed the MOU in Abu Dhabi on July 19. Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, deputy group CEO and chief executive officer, alternative investments and infrastructure, Mubadala said: "As a high performing business with significant global growth potential, Nexen Tire represents an interesting investment opportunity for Mubadala Investment Company. Our investment approach prioritizes partnership with best-in-class global organizations as a key driver of creating lasting value for our shareholder. We look forward to exploring opportunities with Nexen Tire." Travis Kang, CEO of Nexen Tire, added: "This strategic partnership with Mubadala Investment Company is a significant milestone for Nexen Tire in our journey to becoming a global top 10 tire company by 2025. This collaboration will accelerate Nexen Tire's growth in international markets." In addition to the equity investment, Mubadala and Nexen will explore a broader range of business initiatives, including potential further investment as well as wider cooperation in Nexen Tire's overseas expansion. The parties will also cooperate in other areas such as future automotive technology linked to the fourth industrial revolution. - * Email

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Lawrence Livermore research team prints 4D silicone meta materials  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Livermore, CA - A research team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has used a direct ink writing (DIW) process to 3D print property-specific, silicone meta materials that possess shape memory behavior, which technically makes them 4D printed. LLNL has worked with both 3D printed metamaterials and 4D printing before, but by using a DIW process, the material becomes more lightweight and functional, with a tailored, mechanical response. This can be achieved when printed structural porosity and intrastrand porosity are combined, by adding hollow, gas-filled microspheres into the 3D printing ink. But many researchers are adding different materials to the mix, such as these shape memory polymers, in order to increase the potential applications. The team published a paper on their work, titled, “3D Printed Silicones with Shape Memory,” in the journal Scientific Reports. The co-authors of the paper include Stephanie E. Schulze, who works for the Department of Energy’s National Security Campus, and LLNL Materials Engineering Division researchers Taylor M. Bryson, Emily Cheng, Eric B. Duoss, Thomas R. Metz, Ward Small IV, Thomas S. Wilson and Amanda S. Wu. - * Email

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Thailand and Indonesia consider cutting rubber output from 10 to 15 percent  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Putrajaya, Malaysia - Thailand and Indonesia are considering cutting rubber output from 10 percent to 15 percent in order to curb falling prices, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong. He said the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), comprising Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, would meet in Bangkok on September 15 to discuss measures to stabilize rubber prices. Citing an example, he said the SMR 20 rubber price in Malaysia dropped from RM 957.23 per kg in January to RM 626.65 per kg in July this year. “The fluctuation of rubber prices was due to declining demand for the commodity, especially from China, the world’s largest rubber consumer. Therefore, we need to control the supply. During the ITRC meeting, we will discuss on the Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme to stabilize the rubber prices. I think we can reduce the rubber production from 10 percent to 15 percent from the three countries from the current production,” he told a press conference at an Aidilfitri open house hosted by his ministry in Putrajaya. Mah said a draft memorandum on rubberized road between Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand would be prepared at the meeting in an effort to increase demand and usage of rubber. “The three countries will increase the use of rubber in their respective countries. The cost of rubberized road is slightly higher in the beginning. However, it lasts longer and in the long term, its maintenance is cheaper. “We will have an agreement on how to increase the use of rubberized road, especially in the three countries, during the meeting,” he said. Rubberized road is a mixture of scrap rubber and bitumen, which is more durable. Over the past two years, the Malaysian Rubber Board and Public Works Department have conducted a joint study to determine the effectiveness of using Cuplump modified asphalt for road construction or resurfacing works. “We need to look after the interests of 450,000 rubber smallholders and ensure that rubber prices remain stable,” he said. - * Email

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Sumitomo Rubber to increase Chinese production capacity by 60 percent by 2020  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Osaka, Japan - The Asian Review reports, Sumitomo Rubber Industries will increase its Chinese production capacity of passenger vehicle tires by roughly 60 percent by 2020, anticipating brisk demand for fuel-saving tires. The Kobe-based rubber company plans to boost capacity in China to 100,000 tires daily. To achieve this, it expects to spend about 30 billion yen ($267 million) to triple output at a plant in inland Hunan Province from around 20,000 to 60,000. The 550,000-sq.-meter premises of the plant will house new buildings, with automation equipment to stem rising labor costs. The investment decision will be formalized within the year. Sumitomo Rubber also makes passenger-vehicle tires in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai. Separately, Sumitomo Rubber plans to increase dealerships selling its Dunlop brand tires by around 10 percent to 7,000 in a year or two. It will focus on stores run by local owners in inland areas like Sichuan and Hunan. The Chinese market for tires is overcrowded with hundreds of manufacturers, including small and midsize players. Sumitomo Rubber has a market share of less than 10 percent in China. But middle-class people regard its products highly for their quiet on the road, as well as low resistance and contribution to fuel economy. So even though its prices are higher than Chinese offerings, Sumitomo Rubber expects strong demand. The number of passenger vehicles owned in China, including buses, more than doubled over five years to 140 million in 2015, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. While Chinese-made tires often are priced 40 percent cheaper than Japanese or western counterparts, the latter have a strong position supplying tires for high-end brand vehicles from Japan, Europe or the U.S. Sumitomo Rubber aims to expand its market share by selling more high-value-added tires. The 2015 dissolution of cooperation with American peer Goodyear has left Sumitomo Rubber unable to sell the Dunlop brand in the west. So in these markets, Sumitomo Rubber is stepping up promotion of its own brand, Falken. Meanwhile in China, South America and Africa, Sumitomo Rubber can still sell Dunlop tires. Sumitomo Rubber also operates 20 D-Guard shops in China, which offer services like oil change and battery replacement. By stepping up services, the company hopes to strengthen its brand. Many tiremakers are eager to capture the ample growth potential in the Chinese market. China National Chemical, also known as ChemChina, bought Italian maker Pirelli, the global No. 5 in the industry, in 2015. And Yokohama Rubber will increase its Chinese production capacity of passenger vehicle tires by about 50 percent by 2020 from 2016 levels, by bolstering factories in Jiangsu and elsewhere. - * Email

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Birla Carbon announces the retirement of Kevin Boyle and appoints John Loudermilk as COO  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Atlanta, GA - Birla Carbon announced that Kevin Boyle has decided to retire as chief operating officer. Boyle has served in this role since the acquisition of Columbian Chemicals Company by the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) in 2011. His retirement will become effective August 31, 2017. “I have enjoyed my time with Birla Carbon and am proud of our accomplishments along with the entire team,” Boyle commented “While it is always difficult to decide when to step away, it is the right time for me and my family, as well as, the company to make a positive transition.” Santrupt B. Misra, Birla Carbon’s chief executive officer, speaking on behalf of the Aditya Birla Group, said, “We greatly appreciate Kevin’s commitment and leadership to Birla Carbon. Kevin has made several significant contributions beginning with the smooth integration of Columbian Chemicals into the Aditya Birla Group to form the global leader in carbon black. We are fortunate to have had the benefit of his vision and business acumen.” The Aditya Birla Group has appointed John A. Loudermilk to serve as chief operating officer and to lead Birla Carbon effective September 1. Loudermilk joined Birla Carbon with the acquisition of Columbian Chemicals in 2011 after joining Columbian in 2005. He has held several key leadership positions including as vice president, global operations and chief technology officer and, most recently, president, North America, Europe and Africa. Prior to joining Columbian Chemicals, Loudermilk worked for Solutia Inc. and its predecessor, Monsanto Company, in diverse leadership roles in business management, sales, supply chain and manufacturing. Misra added, “John’s experience leading various aspects of our business will ensure a smooth transition and enable him to be successful in the COO role. John is a strong and passionate leader who has the full confidence of the Aditya Birla Group to continue our journey to be the most respected, dynamic and sustainable global carbon black business.” Loudermilk commented, “I am both humbled and excited to get this opportunity to lead this great team. I look forward to build on our long history and achieve new successes for our customers, communities and all of our stakeholders.” - * Email

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