CHICAGO — Eastman Chemical Co. took a step forward in the polyethylene market by introducing two new families of linear low density PE resins at NPE 1997, held June 16-20 in Chicago.
However, company officials stopped short of comparing their new technology to technology used in metallocene catalysts.
Tenite Hifor-brand and Mxsten-brand LLDPE resins are being produced at the Kingsport, Tenn.-based company's PE plant in Longview, Texas. Recent debottlenecking at the plant has added 100 million pounds of capacity in an effort to handle the new products.
Both products offer high dart impact and tear strength, while Mxsten also provides high-heat seal and easy processability, officials said. Tenite Hifor is aimed at heavy-duty shipping sacks, industrial film, food packaging and stretch films, while Mxsten is expected to find uses in meat and poultry wraps, food packaging and stretch films.
Phillip Griswold, vice president and general manager of Eastman's flexible plastics division, said he couldn't discuss details such as catalyst technology because the new technology is proprietary to Eastman.
``We've found that our customers don't care how we make the material,'' Griswold said. ``They're interested in performance.''
Eastman Executive Vice President R. Wiley Bourne Jr. added that the new LLDPEs are ``more on the cutting edge than anything we've developed in olefins,'' but he agreed with Griswold on the metallocene question.
``It might be a little early to let our mouths get ahead of our brains in discussing technology,'' Bourne said.
However, Griswold did say some characteristics of the new LLDPEs, such as overall strength, are superior to those found in metallocene LLDPEs. But the new products can be improved somewhat to
meet metallocenes' clarity level, he added.
``We want to minimize any confusion there might be [with metallocenes],'' Griswold said.
Eastman has given samples to more than 25 customers in the past three weeks. Griswold said one of those customers approached him with a film sample at Eastman's booth to say how much he was impressed with the new material.
The product had been in development since Eastman opened the Longview plant in 1993, according to Griswold.