Dow Chemical Co. and Basell NV are making sure they have new polypropylene products ready to go when the world economy takes a turn for the better.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow is forging ahead with growth plans in 2003 and 2004 for polypropylene-based products using its Insite-brand technology. Basell, with North American headquarters in Elkton, Md., will begin production of its Oxypolypropylene-brand PP in Varennes, Quebec, by mid-October.
Dow currently is marketing new grades of Inspire-brand PP with high stiffness, toughness and clarity, global PP research and development director Diane Sexton said at Flexpo 2003, held Sept. 17-19 in Galveston.
The PP market ``is coming out of the dark days of all the capacity we brought on through 2003,'' Sexton explained. ``The market is growing above [gross domestic product], and that's being driven by interpolymer substitution.''
The new Inspire grades can be used in blow molding, thanks to improved performance in breakage resistance and visual appeal, the company said. The move is intended to build PP's 2 percent share of the North American blow molding market, which is dominated by high density polyethylene and PET.
``You don't want the bottle breaking when the mom - or, more likely, the teenage son - drops it out of the refrigerator onto the floor,'' Sexton said.
Dow also is preparing a new line of Insite-based elastomers and plastomers that could be commercialized as early as the second half of 2004. The materials are designed to fill several ``technology gaps'' for those materials with improved processability, clarity and heat resistance.
The new Inspire grades are being made at Dow PP sites in Freeport, Texas, and Europe. No decision has been made as to where the new elastomers and plastomers will be produced.
Since entering the PP market in 1996, Dow has grown to become the world's seventh-largest producer, with annual capacity of 2.6 billion pounds at seven plants.
Basell's new OxyPP line consists of PP with active oxygenated molecules made by introducing a low percent of oxygen during radiation treatment, according to strategic marketing specialist Sachin Sakhalkar.
The materials can improve loadings of flame retardants and pigments in PP resins by 10-15 percent, Sakhalkar said. They also can provide 10-25 percent higher strength and more consistent colorability in PP/nylon blends. In glass-reinforced grades, OxyPP provides better tensile and flex strength, he added.
Basell, the world's largest PP maker, also is commercializing four new grades of its Adstif-brand PP for end uses including deli and ice cream containers, stadium and yogurt cups and corrugated sheet. The grades will be produced in Lake Charles, La., and other Basell sites in North America and Europe.