DuPont Films is investing $16 million to boost dimethyl terephthalate capacity by 50 million pounds at its Old Hickory, Tenn., facility. The Old Hickory plant currently has capacity for roughly 700 million pounds per year of DMT, which is used in the production of polyester, said Craig Binetti, business director and general manager of DuPont PET Resins & Chemicals, one of four DuPont Films business units. It is DuPont's only DMT production site. The new capacity should be in place by April, he said by telephone Aug. 24. DuPont also will be reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds there 15 percent.
At Cape Fear, N.C., DuPont Films is spending another $12 million to convert a former DMT production unit into a methanolysis plant that will use waste PET to produce 100 million pounds of DMT and 30 million pounds of ethylene glycol a year. It expects the unit to be operating by early next year. A pilot project at Old Hickory first tested the process, called Petretec, between 1993 and 1994. That demonstration ``went very well,'' Binetti said.
DuPont Films both uses DMT in-house in its $1.3 billion film and sheet extrusion business and sells it to outside customers. The chemical has properties compatible with additive systems used in films, engineering plastics and certain fibers and resins, he said.
``Basically the industry is in a sold-out position for those ingredients,'' he said.
The polyester market is climbing at a rate of 7-8 percent a year, because of PET's diversity, recyclability, physical properties, such as clarity for packaging, and growing use in engineered plastics, Binetti said.
DuPont Films is a business of DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del.