HOUSTON — Single-Site Catalysts LLC of Mountain View, Calif., has reached an agreement with AlliedSignal Inc. of Morristown, N.J., to produce boron co-catalysts for use in making metallocene polyethylene and polypropylene.
``We're looking forward to utilizing AlliedSignal's expertise in elemental chemistry,'' SSC General Manager Peter Kilner said prior to announcing the agreement at MetCon'99, an industry conference held in Houston June 9-10. ``This will guarantee us secure supply and attractive pricing.''
Kilner added he expects the SSC/Allied partnership to have co-catalysts ready for commercial production by the end of the year.
The agreement is a big step forward for SSC, a 50-50 joint venture formed in November between catalyst giants Catalytica Inc. of Mountain View and Sud-Chemie AG of Munich, Germany.
Catalytica had been researching organometallic catalysts for 15 years but only began producing polymer catalysts in 1996. Sud-Chemie had done work in polymer additives and olefin purifiers, but not in polymer catalysts.
``Catalytica became convinced metallocenes were for real three years ago,'' Kilner said. ``We had eyed it for many years and after talking with our customers decided that a lot of metallocene projects were finally ready to move out into commercialization.''
The joint venture will allow Sud-Chemie to fill a hole in its product lineup and will give Catalytica access to Sud-Chemie's global capabilities and larger resource base.
SSC hopes to reach annual sales of at least $50 million in the next five years, Kilner said. Sud-Chemie's 1998 sales were about $1 billion, while Catalytica's totaled $350 million.
SSC has no direct employees, but shares the research staffs of Catalytica and Sud-Chemie. Production work is done at plants in Bay View, Calif., and Greenville, N.C. SSC operates sales offices in Mountain View; Houston; Louisville, Ky.; Munich; and Tokyo.
Kilner declined to identify any of SSC's individual customers but said the firm has worked with ``all the big polyolefin producers.''
Dow Chemical Co. and Exxon Chemical Co. are widely regarded as the leaders in the field.
Kilner added that he was confident SSC's products would help to quicken the commercialization of metallocene-based materials.
``You don't expect polyolefins producers to switch on a dime overnight,'' he said. ``But now they're going to have better products and a wider variety to choose from.''