DALLAS — Spurred by new technology and growing demand, Dow Polyurethanes will build two copolymer polyol plants — one in Europe, the other in North America — expanding its annual polyol capacity by about 265 million pounds.
A new plant in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, will give the firm two European polyol facilities, and additional annual capacity of about 165 million pounds, company officials said at Polyurethanes Expo '98, held Sept. 17-20 in Dallas.
Its new North American site, in Freeport, Texas, will produce about 100 million pounds of copolymer polyol annually.
Both plants will have about 12,000 square feet of space. Dow officials would not reveal the cost of construction.
``We really think we have the next generation of copolymer,'' said Dennis R. Campbell, commercial director of polyurethanes. ``The combination of a continuous process and our technology pushed us. We think we have the leading technology in this area.''
Much of the polyol will be used in automobile seating, bedding and furniture, he said.
Manufacturing capacity at the Terneuzen facility will give Dow the largest copolymer polyol plant in Europe and enable the company to source these polyols globally, a company spokeswoman said.
The plant is expected to begin operating in December. The Freeport facility is slated to open in July.
Both sites, along with Dow's existing copolymer operation in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, will benefit from a new Dow technology that allows for production of copolymer polyols with higher solids content and lower viscosities, said David Fischer, global business manager, polyols.
Copolymer polyols are used to produce load-bearing frames and high-resilience foams.
``With these new processing advantages, I believe we now have the best technology in the world for copolymer polyols,'' he said.
The demand for copolymer polyols is significant and growing, said Steven English, polyols product marketing manager in Europe, although he did not disclose market specifics. The expansions will enable Dow Polyurethanes to meet the growing global demand for foam products, English said.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical Co. is the fifth-largest chemical company in the world, with annual sales of about $20 million. It employs about 43,000.
Dow Polyurethanes has 23 manufacturing sites worldwide. The business group handles a variety of applications, including adhesives, coatings, elastomers and sealants. About 35 percent of Dow Polyurethanes' products are sold in North America, 35 percent in Europe, 15 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and 15 percent in Latin America.