Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI) says a "technology breakthrough debottleneck project" will allow it to increase capacity for polyolefin elastomers at facilities in Texas and Spain, so that once its new specialty elastomers plant in Thailand comes online, it will have a total global capacity for the products of almost 2 billion lb. Sites in Freeport, TX and Tarragona, Spain, as well as its SCG-Dow Group JV plant in Thailand, which is under construction, will utilize the technology that will result in a net increase in production of 550 million lb by 2011.
Kelley S. Cone, who works in public affairs for Dow Elastomers and Plastics Additives, couldn't elaborate on the new technology, saying only that it is proprietary. She did say that the new Thailand facility is expected to begin manufacturing in the second quarter of next year and that the new technology can be rolled out quickly. "Given the rapid implementation capability of this technology, we will deploy on an as-needed basis."
Luis Cirihal, Dow Elastomers global business director, said in a release that, "Dow has been the leader in polyolefin elastomers and plastomers from the very beginning, and we are committed to holding that position." Competitor ExxonMobil Chemical, particularly with its Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomer product, has been targeting the specialty elastomer space as well. That company has previously announced plans to add 300,000 tonnes/yr of new Vistamaxx capacity in 2011 in Singapore. At this point in time, Vistamaxx is made at an ExxonMobil Chemical site in Baton Rouge, LA.
Dow says it currently has 1.5 billion lb of capacity dedicated to the production of its Affinity, Engage, Versify, and Infuse polyolefin plastomers and elastomers. In addition to elastomers, the company offers the metallocene-based EPDM product, Nordel. The Versify plastomer and elastomer products are based on propylene, while the Affinity polyolefin plastomers, Infuse olefin block copolymers, and Engage polyolefin elastomers are ethylene based. —[email protected]