Exxon Chemical Co. is boosting supply of its metallocene-catalyzed, Exact-brand plastomer resins by converting part of its Paxon Polymer Co. plant in Baton Rouge, La., to Exact production capacity. Exxon also announced at a May 22 press conference in New York that it agreed to license its Exxpol metallocene catalyst technology to Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.
Exxon said it will retrofit about 250 million pounds of Paxon's capacity to make Exact plastomer resins by the second half of 1998. Officials said demand for Exact soon will outstrip supply from Exxon's Baton Rouge plant, which the firm finished expanding in January to about 50 million pounds per year capacity. The first phase of the Paxon conversion due for completion early next year will more than double Exxon's Exact capacity in North America.
One analyst said he expects Exxon's expansion will prevent a supply shortfall for Exact plastomers in the near term.
``It will probably take a year to a year and a half for customers to specify the new resins,'' said Naresh Kumar, an industry analyst with Chemical Market Resources Inc. of Houston. He cited conversion of snack-food bag liners to plastomers as one area promoted by Exxon. Cus-tomers are sampling Exact liners ``and it takes time to convert once the material is approved.''
Kumar said Exxon's new joint venture with DSM NV also will figure prominently in the firm's plastomers supply. The previously reported European venture - announced May 10 - plans to make 250 million pounds of Exact per year.
Film packaging will ``scoop up'' a big part of Exact supply, predicted Fred Steininger, director of sales development for Exxpol technology polymers. The plastomers offer low extractables, good heat-seal performance, toughness, controlled barrier properties and other characteristics sought by converters and end users, he claimed. Modified atmosphere packaging is one application ideally suited to this property slate.
Mitsubishi initially will target packaging markets for plastomers made under its Exxpol license, the first in Asia. Mitsubishi will have the license for its Mizushima, Japan, facility, a 100 million-pound-per-year, high-pressure PE plant. It has been using Exxon's Exact resins for market development in Japan.
Exxon can convert more of Paxon's 1.5 billion-pound capacity to metallocene technology as demand grows, according to Paxon President Robert Wotring. He said the plant will introduce six Exact grades early in 1997.