Dow Chemical Co. recently stopped production of its Index-brand ethylene styrene interpolymers, ending a five-year effort to establish a commercial base for the product.
``There is a market for [the materials'] technical performance,'' Romeo Kreinberg, Dow polyolefins and elastomers business group president, said in a news release. ``However, we have not been able to construct an economically viable business model.''
Midland, Mich.-based Dow had been producing Index at a 50 million-pound-capacity plant in Sarnia, Ontario, since late 1999. A smaller pilot plant had been in operation in Freeport, Texas, since early 1997.
Dow stopped Index production in July but will continue to sell its inventory to some customers, officials said. Index is made by combining ethylene and styrene molecules through Dow's Insite-brand, single-site catalyst technology. Dow had expected to find applications in packaging, durable goods, toys, footwear, flooring and automotive markets.
The material sold for 75-90 cents per pound, competing with flexible PVC and ethylene vinyl acetate, among other materials.
Sentinel Polyolefins LLC of Hyannis, Mass., commercialized Index-based foams for marine flotation devices and similar uses in late 1999 - and Dow's own performance foam unit introduced three similar products - but a larger market never developed.
When the Sarnia plant opened in late 1999, Dow officials said they expected to open a 400 million-pound Index plant early this year. Just a few months after the opening, the firm downgraded that estimate to a 250 million-pound plant.