DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 15, 11:30 a.m. EST) — Crompton Corp. is investing millions of dollars in a German plant that will begin production this month of vinyl stabilizers using its trademarked OBS organic-based stabilizer technology.
The resulting product offers what the firm terms an environmentally friendly alternative to the lead stabilizers that still are used widely in many parts of the world in rigid PVC pipe.
Crompton also has signed a technology licensing agreement that will allow a rival, Chemson AG of Arnoldstein, Austria, to make and sell OBS stabilizers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and South America. Chemson traditionally has sold lead stabilizers to thOse markets, and now will be able to offer Crompton's products as an alternative, Bill Stephenson, Crompton executive vice president for plastics and petroleum additives, said at K 2001, held Oct. 25-Nov. 1 in Dusseldorf.
He said Crompton's Witco Vinyl Additives GmbH unit will operate the new Lampertheim, Germany, plant, which is the first commercial-scale facility to make the OBS additives. While not disclosing the plant's planned output, Stephenson said, “We can triple or quadruple capacity quickly. And we can toll material as we expand the plant.”
The K show also marked the first major plastics exhibition at which the entity resulting from the merger of Crompton & Knowles Corp. and Witco Corp. appeared under the same corporate flag. In September 1999 the two firms combined operations into a specialty chemicals giant with sales of more than $3 billion and 10,000 employees. Crompton, which also is parent to plastics machinery maker Davis-Standard Corp., nearly tripled its specialty chemicals sales in 1996 when it merged with Uniroyal Chemical Corp., where Stephenson worked.
Late last month Crompton Corp. announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from Greenwich, Conn., to Middlebury, Conn., by the end of 2002, and offer jobs in the new location to most of its 250-person Greenwich work force.
The firm says its new OBS stabilizer is a fully organic formulation that processes in PVC as well as lead, with few performance tradeoffs. Crompton said the material can be used to extrude pipe and injection mold pipe fittings on standard equipment.
The additive may find a ready market in Europe, where various governments are expected to mandate lead-free potable-water pipes in the near future. That topic is less of an issue in the United States, where more environmentally acceptable tin already is the primary stabilizer used in PVC pipe. OBS additives may offer an alternative to the lead-stabilized vinyl compounds still widely used in North American wire and cable applications, but the organic product first will have to prove it can provide the necessary electrical properties in such uses.
Separately, Crompton promoted at the K show its Polybond coupling agents for use in wood-filled polymer composites that are growing quickly as a material for decking, fencing, boardwalks and docks. The firm designed its Polybond additive for use in wood- and natural-fiber-filled polyethylene and polypropylene composites, and claims it improves toughness, tensile and flexural strength, and enhances the processing of plastic lumber products.