Sabic breaks ground on China tech center

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Saudi Basic Industries Corp. broke ground April 6 on a long-planned, $100 million tech center in China, and also announced that its Sabic Innovative Plastics unit is boosting production for Lexan polycarbonate resins and films in Shanghai and Nansha, China.

Sabic will build the 645,000-square-foot technology center in Kangqiao, east of Shanghai. It will house some 400 employees, who will relocate to the facility when it opens in 2013.

In addition to commercial and corporate staff, the center will be home to a research and development team of more than 200 scientists and engineers focusing on advanced engineering plastics materials. The facility also will feature a China automotive innovation hub to drive next-generation materials development for that fast-growing sector.

Sabic essentially began planning for a new center since it acquired GE Plastics for $11.6 billion in 2007. The Saudi conglomerate has been leasing space within General Electric Corp.’s large Shanghai technical and applications development center since that deal, but recognized the need to build its own such facility in China.

Sabic Chairman Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thenayan Al-Saud, who also is chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, said at the recent groundbreaking ceremony: “Material sustainability is key to the creation of new applications across industries. With the new technology center, Sabic brings to China its global expertise and experience in petrochemical research and production helping enterprises create new possibilities in the design of products for local and global markets.”

The firm said the center will be built in line with Leadership in Energy and Environment Design gold certification standards, to achieve water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Meanwhile, Sabic IP announced April 18 that it will add dedicated compounding production lines of its Lexan PC resin at its Shanghai plant this year. It said that capacity increase “will ensure ample, reliable supplies of Lexan resins and Lexan specialty copolymers to help drive Asian customer growth.” The addition comes on the heels of a similar Lexan compounding expansion in Nansha in late 2010. Sabic IP does not disclose production capacity.

Sabic IP also plans to boost capacity for Lexan optical-quality PC and textured film products in Asia in 2012-14, after starting up a new extrusion line in a Class 1,000 clean room at Nansha in the first quarter of 2011. The capacity will address accelerating market demand for high-end film in consumer electronics, automotive and security segments.