BARTLESVILLE, OKLA. - Phillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville announced Oct. 15 it will expand production of polyphenylene sulfide at its Borger, Texas, facility by the end of 1997. Phillips said it will increase production by 40 percent to 21.6 million pounds a year.
The increase will provide resin to fuel new growth for PPS, according to Werner Lehnert, manager of engineering plastics.
``For the past few years, growth has been at double-digit rates, but this year we have seen a flat growth rate, at only 5-6 percent,'' Lehnert said in a telephone interview from his office in Bartles-ville.
``The basic buying rationale has not changed, but we have had supply impasses,'' Lehnert said. He explained that production capacity has not kept up with demand, which has limited the development of new applications.
PPS is a highly stable engineering resin that has good resistance to high temperatures and corrosive environments. It has been growing in demand for automotive, appliance, electric and electrical components and in such uses as fibers for bag houses and smokestack filters, according to Lehnert.
Phillips started to produce PPS at its Borger facility in 1972. The company has expanded the facility several times since then, but the latest expansion was more than eight years ago, Lehnert said.
The firm did not reveal how much the expansion will cost.
The completion of Phillips' expansion will coincide with an expansion being put into production by Hoechst-Celanese.
Hoechst announced in March it will increase its PPS production at its Wilmington, N.C., facility by 50 percent - to 12 million pounds a year - by the end of 1997.
Separately, Phillips announced it is building its first European compounding operation, near Antwerp, Belgium, to provide glass-reinforced, mineral-filled and special compounds of PPS resins to its European customers.
Phillips said it will move its European plastics laboratory and customer and technical services operations to the Antwerp site from Overijse, Belgium.
The Antwerp facility will begin operations in April, producing 8.4 million pounds of PPS compounds a year.
The company said the facility is designed to expand to produce as much as 30 million pounds of PPS compounds a year.