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Styrolution focusing on new specialty products

By: Frank Esposito

November 14, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — As it marks its second birthday, styrenics maker Styrolution Group GmbH is looking to grow with new products.

“We started with an integration program — that’s what you do if you’re a new company,” Americas President Alexander Glueck said in an Oct. 18 interview at K 2013. “Now we want to set a path for the future.”

At the event, Frankfurt, Germany-based Styrolution — a joint venture formed in 2011 between the styrenics units of Ineos Group and BASF SE — has introduced two new grades of its Zylar-brand styrenic copolymer. The new grades are aimed at medical devices and household goods and, officials said, offer excellent clarity, high optical quality and ease of processing.

Styrolution also at the show is spotlighting a grade of Luran-brand acrylic styrene acrylonitrile (ASA) that offers high-performance aesthetics for the automotive market. A new grade of Novodur-brand ABS designed for electroplated applications also is being launched at the show.

The firm is continuing to focus on its specialty products, according to Glueck. Those include high-heat grades of ABS, ASA and styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) as well as blends such as nylon/ABS.

Glueck added that polystyrene “is a very important product for Styrolution as well,” even though the material has lost ground in North America and Europe in recent years. “There’s some growth in emerging markets, but flat or slight growth in more developed regions,” he said.

2013 “has been a tremendous year for automotive in North America,” according to Glueck. Styrolution’s ASA resins are used in front grilles, light housings, pillars and other automotive applications.

By the middle of 2014, Styrolution will have upgraded and consolidated its research lab in Channahon, Ill. Glueck said the move “will allow us to develop our own grades in the region. It also will bring our R&D teams together and increase efficiency.”

Styrolution officials also are optimistic about the plastics market in Brazil, as seen by their recent announcement of plans to build a plant there making ABS and related resins through a joint venture with Brazilian petrochemicals giant Braskem SA. The plant would have annual capacity of about 220 million pounds. Styrolution would own 70 percent of the proposed JV. Groundbreaking for the proposed plant could begin as early as 2015, with production launching in 2017. Previously, Styrolution had imported its resins into Brazil from plants in Mexico and Europe.

Brazil now has a population of just over 200 million and, although its growth rates have fluctuated in recent years, Glueck said the country “should see good growth rates” when it hosts the World Cup soccer tournament in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.