logo

Emerald invests millions to add capacity

By: Robert Grace

October 15, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — Emerald Kalama Chemical plans to invest 5 million to 10 million euros to restart a second benzoic acid reactor train at its facility in Rotterdam, Netherlands, a company official announced Oct. 15 at K 2013.

The move will add 75,000 metric tons of new capacity for the material, which is used to make the firm's K-Flex non-phthalate plasticizers and coalescents, according to Julie Vaughn, vice president of business development and marketing services for the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based additives supplier. The project — the latest in a series of expansions by parent company Emerald Performance Materials — is scheduled for completion in the second quarter next year.

The added capacity will support sales of the company's Kalama and Purox brands of benzoic acid and benzoate preservatives, as well as its own internal demand for the downstream products that have been driving growth.

"Benzoic acid is the core product at the heart of our operations and essential to everything we do," Ed Gotch, president of Emerald Kalama Chemical, stated in a news release.

Gotch said the company's recent wave of expansions "will continue to increase our global footprint and allow us to meet growing demand for our products in markets such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, personal care and industrial uses, including adhesives, sealants, caulk, paint, coatings, graphic arts and vinyl applications."

The company, which assumed its current name and structure in 2006, has been producing benzoic acid at its Rotterdam and U.S. operations for more than 50 years. This past April the company completed its most recent expansion at Kalama Chemical's Rotterdam facility, which included a new flaker production unit for its Purox B pure grade benzoic acid line. Emerald Kalama Chemical commissioned a new K-Flex plasticizer operation at Rotterdam in September 2012 and also has expanded production at its Kalama, Wash., facility several times, effectively doubling K-Flex capacity since 2011.

All of these moves, including the latest Dutch reactor expansion, represent an investment of "tens of millions of dollars," Vaughn said at a press event the day before K 2013 opened. It is the first time the firm has exhibited at the giant German trade fair. After the new reactor is in operation, the Rotterdam plant will have just under 200,000 tonnes of total annual capacity, Vaughn said.