HOUSTON — Univation Technologies is taking a major step toward spreading metallocene technology to the Asia-Pacific market by licensing polyethylene technologies to Exxon Chemical Co.'s proposed PE plant in Singapore.
The plant, billed as the largest single-reactor, single-extruder PE facility in the world, will have annual capacity of almost 992 million pounds. Startup is slated for 2000.
Univation, an Exxon-Union Carbide joint venture based in Houston, will provide the plant with Unipol gas-phase PE process, Exxpol metallocene catalysts and supercondensed-mode technology.
``We believe it will help us to sell other licenses in Asia,'' Univation President and Chief Executive Officer Greg McPike said in an interview in Houston.
Unipol will allow the plant to produce a range of high density PE and linear low density PE resins, while Exxpol will create metallocene LLDPE for use in trash bags, stretch film, flexible packaging, diaper backsheets and other applications. Some of these resins eventually will be able to replace LDPE in blend applications, McPike said.
Metallocene LLDPE from Exxon's plant in Notre Dame de Gravenchon, France, will be imported to develop the Asian market until the Singapore plant is operational, McPike said.
Univation is ``definitely making a statement'' with the Singapore licensing, McPike said.
``No one else is putting a billion pounds through one extruder,'' McPike said. ``The fact that it's focused on two types of metallocenes is significant.''
Univation officials described the Asia-Pacific region as one of the company's most important markets. PE demand will grow 10 percent annually through 2005 — twice as fast as the rest of the world, officials said.
PE capacity in the region will increase by more than one-third by 2000 with the addition of more than 8.8 billion pounds, according to Univation. The region already includes 20 Unipol-licensed lines producing 4.4 billion pounds of PE annually.
Univation also cited industry predictions that most new PE plants will employ metallocene catalysts by 2000 and that 25 percent of LLDPE will be produced with metallocene catalysts by 2005.