Allied Chemical & Dye Co. Semet Solvay Division

Allied Chemical Back in Picture for Federal Plant

The Tribune was in communication with Congressman Thomas A. Jenkins at Washington this afternoon and learned that the Allied Chemical Company, which operates the local Solvay plant is “back in the picture” in the matter of the construction of the 20 million dollar ammonia plant at South Point.  While I can’t say definitely I’m inclined to believe that the contract will be given to Allied Chemical today,” Mr. Jenkins said.  :However, I’ve been expecting the contract to be issued momentarily for a week or more so I may be wrong in suspecting that the matter will be taken care of toady.”

It is known that the present US-Japanese situation has placed a new light on maters and undoubtedly the matter will now be rushed through.

IET, pg. 3 Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1941


Allied Chemical Corporation

In 1958 the name was shortened. From time to time its divisional structure had been realigned to meet the needs of growing, more complex operations. Manufacturing was carried on by eight Divisions. Agricultural, Fabricated Products, Fibers, Industrial Chemicals, Plastics, Semet-Solvay, Specialty Chemicals and Union Texas Petroleum. Allied Chemical Canada, Ltd., managed all Canadian business. Allied Chemical International directed export sales and manufacturing interests outside of the U.S. Canada.

Origins of Divisions

The Agricultural Division was formerly known as the Nitrogen Division — renamed in 1967 to reflect the Company’s broadened scope of farm products, which were consolidated in a single operating unit. The Division was initiated in 1952, to take over from the former Solvay Process and Barrett Division the production and sale of ammonia and other nitrogenous materials.

At Syracuse, New York, in 1921, Allied Chemical had been the first in the United States to develop commercially the synthetic ammonia process for the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen. This operation was moved to Hopewell, Virginia, where a sizable plant was completed in 1928, making America for the first time independent of imported nitrate deposits. Additional facilities for ammonia and nitrogen fertilizers were later established at South Point, OHIO, and Omaha, Nebraska. The Company’s chemical/fertilizer complex at Geismar, Louisiana, provided a large new production center for the Agricultural Division’s plant foods.

As the leading domestic producer of ammonia, urea, and a broad line of solid and liquid nitrogen fertilizes, the Agricultural Division to the farm economy. Other major products were phosphatic fertilizers, pesticides and liquid protein supplements for animal nutrition. The Division also marketed potassic fertilizers and micronutrients. At locations in the East and Mid-west, the Agricultural Division produced paving materials for highway construction, parking areas and other paving requirements.

This section first appeared: September 2002

Fabricated Products Division — Established in 1967. Manufactured and marketed products strongly oriented to end-users. The division operated five separate businesses. Three departments were:

  • Plastic Film – Caprolan (nylon), Aclar (Fluorocarbon), and PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) — made Pottsvile, Pa.
  • Plastic Dinnerware — Melamine dinnerware was manufactured in Port Gibson, Miss.
  • Unicast Products — Unicast nylon fuel tanks and other hollow vessels for specific customer needs were made at the Whippany, New Jersey plant.
  • Nodaway Valley Foods of Corning, Iowa produced convenience foods such as puddings, pie fillings sour cream, dressings, and cheese sauces. Nodaway’s septic canning process gave products extended shelf life.
  • The Jim Robbins Seat belt Company of Troy, Michigan was a leading maker of seat belts and harnesses for the auto industry. Principal plants were at Knoxville, Tenn., and Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

The Fibers Division — Formed in 1963. Specialized in production and marketing of the Company’s Caprolan Nylon, which had been initiated by the former National Division after almost a decade of corporate research and pilot plant study. The best known of Allied’s Chemical consumer oriented products, Caprolan is, in chemical terms, a nylon-6 polyamide fiber from caprolactam monomer. Allied was the first to produce captolactam and nylon-6 in America, in 1955, building its monomer plant at Hopewell, Va., and spinning facility nearby in Chesterfield County. The caprolactam plant operated by the Plastics Division, supplied the Fibers Division with raw materials for its heavy- and medium-denier yarn made at the Chesterfield plant near Columbia, South Carolina, which began production in 1962. The heavy deniers went into tire cord, carpeting, upholstery, seat belts, cordage, conveyor belts and similar hard-wearing industrial products where unusual strengths were required. Fine-denier yarns went into hosiery, lingerie, colorful gowns, and many types of apparel including outer wear. In 1968 a new fiber combining the desirable qualities of polyamide and polyester polymers was introduced under the trademark “Source”. Its principle use was carpeting.

The Industrial Chemical division — Was established in 1966, consolidating the former National Aniline, Solvay Process, and General Chemical Division — Three of the Company’s original components. Their predecessor firms were prominent in the early days of American manufacture. The oldest and largest of National Aniline’s predecessor was the Schoellkopf Aniline and Chemical Company, pioneer dye manufacturer, which was started in 1879 at Buffalo, NY. National Aniline itself was formed in1917 by the merger of Schoellkopf with two other dye firms.

The Solvay Process Company, responsible for the first commercial soda ash plant in the United States, was founded in 1881 on the outskirts of Syracuse, NY, near the regional abundance of salt and limestone. The General Chemical Company organized in 1899 through the merger of a dozen basic chemical firms, was the first in America to develop the “contact” process for large production of sulfuric acid. As a major supplier of basic chemicals and leader in supplying sulfuric acid essential in the production of other chemicals as nitric and hydrofluoric acid and aluminum sulfate. Soda ash the leading alkali, together with caustic soda and chlorine form the nucleus of another principal product group required by the industry. Chemicals related to this group are calcium chloride, bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide.

The above section first appeared: January 2003

Mutual Chemical Company of America was acquired in 1954. Mutual began mining chromite ore near Baltimore, Maryland in 1827, becoming the largest producer of chromium chemicals. Industrial chemicals’ principal plants were located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Brunswick, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Claymont, Delaware; East St. Louis, Illinois; El Segundo, California; Green River, Wyoming; Moundsville, West Virginia; Port Chicago, California; and Syracuse, New York.

The Plastics Division –
Once part of the former Barrett Divisions’ operations, was made a separate unit in 1958 for the purpose of intensifying research, customer service and market development in the plastics field. The divisions’ initial title – Plastics and Coal Chemicals, was shortened to Plastics in 1960.

  • Barrett Division, one of the original member- firms. The Barrett Company started in Chicago, in 1854, with the first coal-tar still in America and the production of roofing for early western settlers. As a unit of Allied Chemical, Barrett was prominent in building and paving materials — as well as the coal-tar chemicals and plastics was assigned to the Plastics Division.]

In 1967, Allied sold its building materials business; and the paving materials operation, which originated in with Barrett’s “Tarvia” at the turn of the century, was transferred to the Agricultural Division In 1953 Allied Chemical acquired the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company’s Plaskon Division of Toledo, Ohio. In 1964 Allied acquired the Mesa Plastics Company of Los Angeles, California.

A comprehensive group of specialty products were produced ranging from nylon molding compounds to flourine-based resins. The production of phthalic anhydride and phenols and other tonnage materials for the plastics industry were manufactured at its Philadelphia complex. In Hopewell, Virginia, the division manufactured caprolactum, which was used for its nylon molding compounds. Other principal plant locations were Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Chicago, Illinois; Painesville, Ohio; and Whippany, New Jersey.

The Semet Solvay Division –

One of the five concerns to form Allied Chemical in 1920 originated in 1895. Louis Semet, a relative of Ernest and Alfred Solvay of Brussels, Belgium, had developed with Solvay a coke oven designed to recover valuable materials formerly wasted in the coking process. At Syracuse, New York, in 1892 the Solvay Process Company was the first to construct the new by-product ovens in America, and three years later formed the Semet-Solvay Company to build and operate them. The coke plants were located in Ashland, Kentucky; Buffalo, New York; Detroit, Michigan; and Ironton, Ohio. Semet-Solvay operated its own mines in West Virginia for a substantial portion of its coal supply.

Wilputte Coke Oven Division, a part of Semet-Solvay, evolved from the Wilputte Coke Ovens Corporation, which was acquired by Allied in 1940. Wilputte designed and constructed coke ovens and chemical facilities for the company and for customers in the United States and overseas.

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