Articles by: FBC Chemical
FBC Chemical celebrated its 50th year anniversary in 2018. That’s 50 years as a privately-owned, regional chemical distributor in a market dominated by national corporations that answer to their shareholders. That’s 50 years as a family-owned business who knows the key is focusing on the customer.
Here’s how we did it.
- Warehouse Space — Believing that renting warehouse space can be unpredictable and disruptive, FBC has steadily acquired and updated property. Starting in a modest facility in 1968, we moved to our current headquarters location in Mars, PA in 1977, moving the Asphalt Products Division in 1992, and buying an additional warehouse in Mars in 2017. In 1975, we added the Lancaster, NY division, then began expansion in 1995. After acquiring Cuyahoga Chemical in 1999, we built a large warehouse and tank farm in Medina, OH.
- Control Inventory and Logistics — FBC Chemical invests millions of dollars in inventory to be able to quickly deliver as our customers order. We own a fleet of sixteen bulk trucks, tractor trailers and box trucks, and employ safe, reliable drivers at each location. Because of this, our customers don’t have to worry about arranging freight or fighting for a truck to pick up and deliver.
- Partner with Reputable Suppliers — FBC Chemical represents numerous well-known and trusted chemical manufacturers of all sizes. Our growing purchasing department spends the work day making contacts and negotiating, planning and ordering. Product lines have been added as the local market and regulations change.
- Make Our Customers Successful — Your chemistry is our business! To ensure we are doing everything we can to make our customers successful, we continue to add to our customer service department and sales team. Face to face visits, regular contact, knowing our customers personally and tailoring our way of doing business puts our customers at the forefront every day. Instead of worrying about inventory, delivery and raw material quality, they can leave that to us and focus instead on their customers and business plan.
This has been our business model for 50 years and it has served us and the local chemical marketplace well. While looking ahead to a big, bright, beautiful future, we draw knowledge and confidence from our roots. Join us and the customers we service as we step forward and strive for continued success.
As of September 8, 2017, there are several chemical raw material shortages due to Hurricane Harvey and other issues. As of right now, many factories in Texas have not been visited since the employees evacuated so nobody has reliable information about the state of the chemical plants. FBC Chemical has had orders canceled and seen skyrocketing prices in reaction to the chaos and lack of solid information. Nobody has really seen which plants were damaged and how badly. We expect many plants to start back up over the week of September 11. As reports come in from employees in the plants, we expect to be able to make more sense of the market situation and we expect chemical prices/availability to more closely reflect actual reality, rather than panic buying.
Following is a non-comprehensive list of products that FBC Chemical has placed on allocation:
- Butanol / Butyl Alcohol
- Butyl acetate
- Benzyl Alcohol
- PM Acetate
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone
- Methyl Iso Butyl Ketone
- Methyl Amyl Ketone
- Monoethanolamine (all grades)
- Triethanolamine (all grades)
- Propylene Glycol
- Propylene Glycol USP
- Dipropylene Glycol
- Glycol Ethers – all grades
- Di Basic Ester
- Silicone Fluids – all viscosities
- Propylene Carbonate
- Nonylphenol Decoupage
For further information, please contact your FBC sales representative.
Choosing the correct grade of TEA
Triethanolamine is commonly found in countless formulations that range from industrial metalworking formulas to baby shampoo. There are four common grades of TEA, and unfortunately, the nomenclature for the different grades often confuses even experienced chemists and formulators. At best, this can lead to ordering the wrong product and wasting time in correcting the error. At worst, buying the wrong grade could lead to unintentionally adding a suspected carcinogen (diethanolamine) to your personal care products.
Are you sure that you want “Triethanolamine 85%?”
Triethanolamine is often diluted with 15% water to lower the freeze point and make handling easier. Unfortunately, it’s often also cut with 15% diethanolamine for improved corrosion resistance. This leads to endless ambiguity when a customer orders “Triethanolamine 85%.”
In brief, if you want water with your triethanolamine, you want to order the low-freeze grade (LFG). If you want diethanolamine in it, you want to order triethanolamine 85%.
Refer to the following chart to see the differences:
(Ask for this when ordering)
|TEA||DEA||Water||Freeze Point (°F)||Often used because…|
|Triethanolamine 99%||99% min||0.4% max||0.2% max||70||You have a hot room or drum heaters so handling is not an issue.|
|Triethanolamine 99% LFG||85%||0.35% max||15%||23||You don’t want your TEA to freeze at room temperature|
|Triethanolamine 85%||85%||15%||0.2% max||64||The addition of DEA aids in corrosion resistance for metalworking and lubricating fluids.|
|Triethanolamine 85% LFG||70%||13%||15%||16||It’s like TEA 85% but has a lower freeze point|
Created with the HTML Table Generator
My goal with this article is to help eliminate confusion when ordering triethanolamine for your products. As always, if you have questions, contact your FBC Chemical sales representative for advice on which grade is right for your application.
Shell Chemicals has recently commercialized a new process that turns natural gas into a synthetic paraffinic fluid. They call this process gas to liquid (GTL) technology. With this technological advance, Shell has introduced a new class of solvents to world chemical markets. Shell’s new GTL line offers several advantages over petroleum-derived solvents:
- Zero odor
- Water-white color
- Clean burning
- Readily biodegradable
- Low toxicity
GTL fluids have an extremely low aromatic content and non-detectable quantities of sulfur, benzene, heavy metals, and other impurities. As this is brand new technology, there’s not yet a precedent for where GTLs are best suited. We recommend trying them where odor, color, or environmental concerns are important to you. Currently, FBC Chemical has two GTL products available for sampling – G75 and G85.
|Flash point (°C)|
|Boiling range (°C)|
188 – 343
198 – 343
|Vapor pressure @ 20° C (mm Hg)|
|Viscosity @ 20° C (cSt)|
Shell built a $20 billion state of the art refinery in Qatar to keep up with the anticipated demand. You can learn about that project in this 4 minute video:
FBC is proud to have been chosen as a selected distributor for these new products. Contact your FBC sales representative today for further specifications or to request a sample.
The devastating typhoon that recently swept the Philippines exacted a tragic loss of life, property and natural resources. As we all participate in a global economy, the destruction of the coconut crop will have a longstanding effect on pricing of surfactants here in North America. 50% of the coconut harvested in the world comes from the Philippines and reports are that 25% of all coconut trees were destroyed. It takes 3 years for a newly planted tree to bear fruit, so that means a prolonged shortage for the years to come. The futures index has already risen $0.30/# for January 1st and will probably go higher. Most coconut users are protected quarterly, so these raw material increases will start being felt January 1st , but people will begin buying up reserves now. Apart from the common use of coconut fatty acid and hydrogenated coconut fatty acid in lubricants, it will directly affect our pricing on amides which will rise at least $0.15/# January 1st whether they are cocamide DEA or coco DIPA etc. We have not yet heard from our cocobetaine producer but expect similar news from them.
Coconut oil is comprised of 50% C12 and 20% C14—so anything lauric- or myristic- will be affected. That will include linear alcohol ethoxylates made out of coconut or palm kernel oil, ether sulfates, amine oxides, di coco quats (Carsprays) as well as coco sultaines and other amphoterics. This is only a short list; our chemist Pete is available to fill in the blanks if you have questions, but the message is there will be price increases and probably some shortages.
If these surfactant products are an important part of your business, contact your FBC representative today for further news and to help us secure you a reliable supply at a price that makes you smile.
The word “biodegradable” is defined as “Capable of decaying through action of living organisms.”
From this definition one can gather that “biodegradability” is simply the capacity for a particular material to biodegrade.
Many products in our industry fall under scrutiny for their biodegradability as they often must undergo a treatment cycle in a wastewater treatment plant. The time period used for this cycle is 28 days. The vernacular of the chemical industry offers two main terms to describe biodegradability based on this time period.
When a product is classified as “Inherently Biodegradable,” it means it will biodegrade to its natural state, when subjected to sunlight, water and microbial activity from as little as 20% to less than 60% in 28 days.
Products are considered “Readily Biodegradable” when they have the natural ability to biodegrade to their natural state, when subjected to sunlight, water and microbial activity, from 60-100% in 28 days.
These terms are important for anyone formulating with eco-friendliness in mind. For decades, the workhorse surfactant family for detergents, degreasers and hard surface cleaners has been nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). These have been under great scrutiny for some time because they are in fact not readily biodegradable and tend to persist in wildlife and humans. The jury is still out on the dangers of this presence, but evidence suggests that NPEs are not completely harmless.
The good news for animals, fish and people is that FBC Chemical offers several alternatives to NPEs and we are happy to share our formulating expertise with you. Please contact your sales representative to discuss these options.
FBC Chemical is happy to announce that we are currently stocking Brosurf DIPA, a coconut amide that can be substituted in place of the traditional 1:1 amide workhorse. Brosurf DIPA offers similar foaming and viscosity characteristics while offering a better health and safety profile. And unlike cocamide DEA, Brosurf DIPA is California-friendly and will not trigger a Proposition 65 warning, so it should be especially attractive to manufacturers that sell products into California and want to avoid a warning label.
This year, a number of North American ethylene oxide producers will take their EO plants offline for scheduled maintenance. As a major feedstock, EO supply affects numerous raw materials. A short list of items this may affect is: ethylene glycol, nonylphenol ethoxylates (e.g. NP-9), alcohol ethoxylates (Tomadol or Empilan products), and several more in the soap and detergent industries.
EO producers have coordinated with each other to minimize supply disruptions and to prevent multiple plants from being offline simultaneously, however, if these plant turnarounds do not all go smoothly and keep to their schedules, price movements and product availability may be exacerbated by unreliable EO supplies. Dow, Indorama and BASF are all scheduled to go offline and return by the end of June. We urge our customers to be prepared for situations such as this until the plants are all back online.
Of all the products in our line, D-Limonene by far has the most volatile price. This can play havoc with cost management efforts of blenders and manufacturers that use a significant portion of D-Limonene in their “citrus cleaners” or degreasers. A little over a year ago, the price reached record highs, and almost hit $5/lb.. Within months, we saw the price crash into the $1.50’s before resuming its ascent. A look at D-Limonene’s production process helps explain this historic price volatility.
D-limonene is extracted from orange peels discarded from juice production. It has grown popular due to its excellent solvency for cleaning and degreasing, as well as its environmental claims of being all-natural and biodegradable.
Because it is derived from citrus fruits, almost all D-limonene sold in the United States comes from either Florida or Brazil, depending on which of those places is “in season” at the time. Its citrus-based origin also explains the historic price volatility, as orange supply is vulnerable to innumerable weather and other natural issues. Hurricanes, early or late frosts, excess rainfall, drought, and plagues of locusts have all negatively impacted the orange crop at one time or another.
There really is no way to protect against fluctuations in the D-limonene price. Whenever a customer tells me that they are considering adding a citrus cleaner to their product line, I explain that D-limonene has some great cleaning and environmental properties, and I always caution them to make sure they can handle the roller coaster ride of D-limonene prices.
We hope this article helps you to understand why D-limonene prices can get so crazy. If the D-limonene price is causing problems for your business, be sure to call your FBC sales representative. We have ample experience in adjusting formulas that can reduce your dependence on D-limonene and would be happy to discuss it with you.