Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of engineered specialty chemicals and sells a mix of products to a range of customers, including manufacturers of electronics, building and construction materials, automotive parts, packaging.
Albemarle was originally a papermill, which entered the bromine business and the manufacture of Ethyl fluid for leaded gasoline. They were known as Ethyl Corporation. The adoption of unleaded gasoline caused a major shift in the market for bromine, but Albemarle continues to manufacture for use in flame retardants and in chemical intermediates. The company is also known for its catalysts and additives for polyolefin plastics such as polyethylene and for refinery processes. Albemarle also supplies tin compounds as stabilizers for plastics and antioxidants for fuels.
In May, 2011, Albemarle announced plans to recover lithium from the brines they process for bromine in Arkansas. An article in C&EN indicated that Chemetall, FMC, and SQM already recover lithium from brines, but the lithium concentration found in South American brines (Chile, Argentina) is higher than those in Arkansas (1400-1500 ppm vs 100-300 ppm). Albemarle is believed to be developing a resin based concentration system which they have pilot planted.
In 2014, Albemarle announced plans to acquire Rockwood. In 2015, Albemarle opened a $200MM lithium carbonate plant in Chile--presumably an expansion of the Lithium Corporation operation acquired from Rockwood. They also announced plans for a 50,000 mt plant for battery grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide--in the US or Asia.
In 2015, Albemarle announced plans to sell its fine chemicals business. Generic pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals are manufactured at a plant in South Haven, MI. The company also manufactures methyl bromide, a soil fumigant, and several aniline derivatives, used as intermediates for dyes and pesticides. Synthetic, renewable base oils for the lubricants market sold by Novvi under the NovaSpec™ brand name will be made by Albemarle at Orangeburg, SC.
Book: Ethyl: A History of the Corporation and the People who Made It, by Joseph C. Robert, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 1983. See the book review on the Books Non-fiction discussion board: http://boards.fool.com/ethyl-corporation-the-story-of-leaded-gasoline-26760338.aspx