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The R&D company ILLA International was founded in 1992 by Dr. Vladimir Zakoshansky on the basis of a laboratory belonging to the Lenneftekhim Petrochemical R&D Institute, Russia. In fact, deep research on the phenol process was commenced in this laboratory in 1970, long before the creation of the company itself. Dr. Zakoshansky, who was a real pioneer of this research and the scientific leader of the lab, organized both a detailed study of the kinetics and mechanisms of the key process stages and successful implementation of various technologies. Presently, he is still at the head of the R&D and management of the two independent ILLA International companies in the US and Russia.

ILLA was originally engaged in development and substantial improvements of the phenol process, discarding or drastically modifying all the previous technologies, approaches and principles used in the conventional phenol process that had been created and first implemented as early as in 1949. By the time of ILLA establishment, Dr. Zakoshansky had already been known in Russia (former Soviet Union) for successful implementations of his inventions. A curious fact is that the foundation of ILLA was in a way propelled by the General Electric Company who were interested in buying one of the newest technologies but, having faced bureaucratic harassment, preferred to work with a private company. Once established, the company started to grow and employ experts from all the country.

General Electric bought the license for the FAN92 cleavage process and implemented it extremely successfully in 1993. That was a breakthrough. A small company counting about 10 employees (among whom were Dr. Vladimir Zakoshansky, Andrey Gryaznov, Irina Vasilyeva, Larissa Zakoshanskaya, Alexandra Tytyunnik), ILLA entered the world market full of hopes and confidence. But still, a lot of work had to be done. A new company in the market has few chances to become a leader and ILLA fought hard to prove its competence. The target was to develop an absolutely new process which would surpass any known technologies in all possible aspects. This implied total rejection of the 20-year experience in phenol industry and creation of an outstanding fairy tale of much higher standards that would leave behind all the existing processes. That was the only way for a small company to sell its product and it turned out to be the key to the market doors.

It was not that easy to attract clients, although after a successful start-up of the phenol process at the GE plant in Mt. Vernon, IN the largest phenol producers got somehow interested in ILLAs developments. In 1994-1998 ILLA was already engaged in several projects abroad including implementation of new technologies at the GE plant, development and implementation of a unique customized process for Phenolchemie (currently INEOS), carrying out baseline studies for Borealis (Finland), Neftochim (Bulgaria), Fenoquimia (Mexico) and others. By that time the company had counted about 25 people whose knowledge and experience grew in proportion to the number and novelty of the technologies invented during that period. Patented, these inventions (fourteen by 1998) contributed quite much to the intellectual property supply which ILLA multiplies year by year. It is worth mentioning that from the very beginning ILLA has always cared for its employees providing them with a good development - some of them got their PhD degrees while working for ILLA and many, starting as ordinary employees, took high positions in the company.

Is it just a coincidence that ILLA entered the new millennium as a trend setter in phenol industry, determining, in a way, the process design philosophy and new concepts of phenol business? In 1999-2013 the company, having gained quite a reputation in the market (with about 30% of world phenol capacity based on ILLAs technologies), continued its way to new horizons. Awarded with major revamp projects (FCFC, Borealis, Mitsubishi Chemical Co., Samara), ILLA has been relentlessly searching for novel directions in phenol production. Some of the recent revolutionary ideas were patented and are waiting in the wings. Currently, about 40 people are working for the company and we are pretty optimistic about our future since our motto is No matter how far you get, its never enough.

Dr. Zakoshanskys look at ILLAs history (interview taken in June 2006)



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