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July 29, 2016

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Sumitomo Chemical to construct second PES plant in Japan

Sumitomo Chemical plans to construct a new production facility for polyethersulfone (PES) engineering plastic at its Chiba Works in Ichihara City, Chiba, Japan. The new facility will have a production capacity of 3,000 tonnes per year.

Commercial production start-up is slated for in 2018. When the facility becomes fully operational, Sumitomo Chemical's total production capacity of PES, combined with the existing facility in its Ehime Works in Niihama, Ehime, will grow two-fold.

PES is a thermoplastic resin with excellent properties in terms of its heat resistance, dimensional stability, flame resistance, and hot water resistance.

Sumitomo Chemical’s Sumikaexcel PES has a long-standing track record of supply to the market as an additive that confers toughness to carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) based on epoxy that are widely used in fuel-efficient aircraft. It is also used in dialysis membranes and automotive applications.

CFRP components in aerospace applications are toughened by the addition of PES resin.

In addition to solid demand growth projected for aircraft CFRPs and dialysis membranes, Sumitomo Chemical believes PES is likely to find increased demand in automotive applications in the future.

To meet such increased demand and also mitigate risk, the company decided to locate the new plant it its site in Chiba, Eastern Japan, rather than on the island of Shikoku in Western Japan where the existing plant is located.

Solvay is another supplier of PES resin for toughening applications with its Virantage PESU product range. The company has collaborated with Korea's Hankuk Carbon Co. to improve the toughness, heat resistance and processing consistency of a carbon fiber-reinforced thermoset composite prepreg.

Solvay produces produce sub-75 micron PESU powder at a plant in Panoli, India, that was expanded in 2013.

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