SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, BRAZIL - One of Brazil's three polystyrene producers, a Monsanto Co. joint venture called Companhia Brasileira de Estireno, has announced plans to double its PS production capacity to 220.5 million pounds a year by mid-1997. The firm is investing an unspecified amount to build a second resin plant on the large, 19-year-old SÃo Jose dos Campos site where it already produces rubber antioxidants, agricultural chemicals, phosphates and Mon-santo-brand Saflex film, which is used as safety film on automotive windshields.
Monsanto has been restructur-ing the site, which now employs about 250, since it shut down the production facilities there two years ago for its San-toprene thermoplastic elastomers and Nutrasweet artificial sweeteners.
The new PS resin unit will employ the same Monsanto continuous mass polymerization process used by its 13-year-old PS plant, CBE manufacturing manager Francisco Sanchez Guerrero said in a May 17 interview at the plant. He said the expansion will prompt the firm to boost direct employment in its PS operations from just less than 50 now to about 70, and double the unit's number of contract, or indirect, employees to about 40.
St. Louis-based Monsanto created a joint venture under the CBE name in early 1994 when it combined its PS resin operations with Brazil's Unigel Group, the holding company for Brazilian styrene monomer producer CBE, which operates a production facility in CubatÃo, Brazil.
Brazilian PS consumption soared in the latter half of last year, following implementation of the government's new economic plan, which released pent-up consumer demand for many products, Guerrero explained.
Guerrero said the country consumed about 154 million pounds of PS from January through June 1994, but closer to 231 million pounds in the second half of the year.
The 385 million pounds of domestic PS consumption represented a jump of some 13 percent from the previous year.
This was more demand than Brazil's three PS producers could handle, and imports surged to 12 percent of total 1994 PS consumption, up from just 3-4 percent (consisting mostly of specialty PS grades) the year before, according to Guerrero.
CBE operates its resin plant around the clock, running four six-hour shifts, seven days a week, Guerrero said.
Brazil's other two PS resin producers are a Dow Chemical Co. joint venture with two local partners that is known as EDN-Estireno do Nordeste SA, and Proquigel Industria e Comercio de Productos, which also is controlled by Unigel.
Statistics from the Brazilian plastics industry association Abiplast indicate that EDN, which uses Dow's continuous mass polymerization process, has annual installed PS production capacity of about 165 million pounds, and that Proquigel, which uses a suspension batch process, can produce as much as 88 million pounds a year.