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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry

III Pharmaceuticals

IV Chemists In Other Industries

V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis

VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links

VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories

VIII The Plastics Industry
i Plastics processing
ii Phenol - basis of the first plastic
iii Plastics - the first generation
iv Plastics - the second generation - from petrochemicals
v Styrene monomer - the West Footscray petrochemical complex
vi The Botany petrochemical complex
vii The petrochemical complex at Altona
viii CSR - from sugar alcohol to petrochemical OXO alcohol

IX The Paint Industry

X Acknowledgements



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CSR - from sugar alcohol to petrochemical OXO alcohol (continued)

This project was followed by yet another petrochemicals building block, the acetaldehyde catalysis from ethylene yielding acetic acid, vinylacetate and ester solvents. Finally, to complete the program, in 1978 synthesis gas and pure hydrogen were produced from natural gas and the plasticiser plants were expanded in 1978 and 1980. For CSR the total program represented a challenging entry into petrochemicals. For the industry and the economy it meant that Australia by then produced locally most of the major petrochemicals.

By 1968, common feedstock -ethylene and phthalic anhydride -and complementary chemistry (phthalic anhydride, compounded PVC) had brought ICI Australia and CSR-Chemicals closer. Rationalisation of this interaction was achieved by joint ownership of CSR-Chemicals, with inclusion of the Newcastle Chemical Company in CSR-Chemicals.

Technically, the Rhodes Plant is a completely up-to-date, advanced, impressive complex, yet plant and research staff, by international standards, were small. Nevertheless, it has recorded many achievements, including the development of sorbitol and many speciality solvents. One product development may serve as an example.

The motor car industry is a demanding customer for many reasons; one of them is that its strict specifications, developed in the technology originating countries, are applied internationally, for reasons of economy and product consistency. It is therefore extremely difficult to break into these markets with a new product from a small base. In Australia's hot climate, plasticisers present in PVC linings and seats of cars were more noticeable by faint odour and fine film deposits on car windows, than in cold Europe and America. CSR staff grasped this opportunity to develop higher molecular weight plasticisers from tricarboxylic acids, not previously used in the industry. The new product solved the problem and was accepted by the international motor car, as well as the cable industry.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - C.S.R. Chemicals Ltd; I.C.I. Australia Ltd; Newcastle Chemicals

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© 1988 Print Edition page 715, Online Edition 2000
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