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A review of major announcements affecting capacity expansion of key resins and reinforcing materials.

Stephen Moore

January 2, 2024

2 Min Read
ExxonMobil’s new propylene-based elastomer plant in Baytown, TX
ExxonMobil’s new 400,000-tonnes/year Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomer plant in Baytown, TX, more than doubled its overall capacity for the resin.Image courtesy of ExxonMobil

At a Glance

  • Massive ABS plant inaugurated in China
  • Propylene-based elastomer capacity doubles
  • Carbon-fiber capacity chases mobility and more

Plastics may be coming under fire from all quarters, but that’s not stopping suppliers from expanding capacity for key resins and reinforcing materials serving major end-use industries such as automotive, appliances, E&E, and other sectors. Several key recent announcements follow.

ABS uplifted in China

One of the world’s largest acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plants was officially opened in November 2023 in Ningbo, China. The 600,000-tonnes/year site is a joint venture of Sinopec and Ineos Styrolution. This facility will produce high-end Terluran ABS grades that advance the design and functionality of many applications across numerous industry sectors, including automotive, electronics, household, healthcare, and toys/sports/leisure for the rapidly growing domestic market in China

Clear picture for acrylic resin demand

Röhm commissioned an acrylic resin (PMMA) plant of undisclosed capacity in Shanghai, China, in October 2023. China is the largest market for PMMA in the world. Röhm’s Plexiglass finds use in automotive lighting, appliance, and building and construction applications, and demand growth is such that Röhm COO Hans-Peter Hauck says another PMMA plant was due to start production in Worms, Germany, at the end of 2023.

Carbon fiber flies in commercial aircraft

Toray Industries Inc. is expanding French subsidiary Toray Carbon Fibers Europe S.A.’s production facilities for regular to medium- and high-modulus carbon fibers. This move will increase annual capacity at the Abidos plant in southwest France from 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes/year. Production is expected to start in 2025.

Demand for medium- and high-modulus carbon fibers is rising in Europe, driven by a push toward a net-zero society. This growth is mainly due to higher build rates for commercial aircrafts (secondary structures and engines), as well as centrifuges for energy production, satellites, and high-end automobiles.

ExxonMobil doubles up on Vistamaxx

In September 2023, ExxonMobil inaugurated its 400,000-tonnes/year Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomer plant in Baytown, TX, effectively more than doubling its overall capacity for the resin. The plant can also manufacture Exact ethylene-based elastomers that are widely used in impact modification for automotive compounds and solar module encapsulation. Vistamaxx itself is widely used in hygiene applications, construction materials such as roof membranes, and as a recycling additive.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

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