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Celanese to add PPS compounding in Nanjing

By: Robert Grace

April 25, 2014

SHANGHAI — Celanese Corp. will add compounding capabilities for Fortron-brand polyphenylene sulfide resins at its Nanjing, China, facilities this year. That output will include production of a new PPS range that the Irving, Texas-based firm introduced at the Chinaplas show in Shanghai. Celanese also used an April 24 media event to roll out a new range of glass-reinforced acetal copolymer (POM) materials.

Company officials said Celanese's production capacity of 15,000 metric tons for PPS polymers will remain unchanged at its plant in Wilmington, N.C., the only place where it makes those materials, via a joint venture with Kureha Corp. Rather, it is making a modest investment in technological capabilities and qualification processes in Nanjing to allow for its first compounding of PPS materials in China. The new line should be operational by year's end, according to Mark Oberle, the firm's Shanghai-based senior vice president for Asia.

Currently in the plastics portion of its integrated Nanjing chemical complex, Celanese compounds polybutylene terephthalate, liquid crystal polymers and POM materials, said Todd Elliott, vice president and general manager for global sales. He estimated that, over the years, Celanese has invested $10 million to $20 million in compounding activities in Nanjing. It officially opened the Nanjing complex in September 2007, though Celanese has been doing business in China since the 1960s.

The company calls the new PPS range Fortron ICE (for "improved crystallization evolution"). ICE grades can help molders stay competitive by reducing cycle times, scrap rates and overall production costs, while also improving flatness and enabling easier demolding. The new range is said to allow Fortron PPS to "reach full crystallinity in molding without hot oil technology, while maintaining its excellent property profile," thereby creating new business and end-use application opportunities.

Celanese also unveiled a new Fortron CES50 grade for use in consumer electronic device housings. This material is designed to help manufacturers produce thin-wall-designed phone frames, tablet covers and radio jack connectors without material warpage. It is a 40 percent glass-filled PPS that has less than 900 parts per million of chlorine content.

The new acetal copolymer materials, meantime, go by the name of Hostaform XGC and combine "improved mechanical properties with a superior anisotropic shrinkage factor vs. other glass-fiber-reinforced resins." The new series is expected to find use in structural applications such as window lift plates, gears and motor housings. Celanese claims these materials offer a wider design latitude and now "can challenge short-glass-filled polyamide and thermoplastic polyester products."

Additionally, Oberle said that Celanese opened a new commercial development center in South Korea two months ago and also is adding engineering capabilities in other key Asian markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam. He said, "We've dramatically increased our focus on Japan," and cited an increased "interconnectivity" between countries such as China, Korea and Japan.

Celanese employs about 7,400 around the world and recorded 2013 net sales of $6.5 billion.