DuPont Co.'s engineering polymers unit plans to open a 30 million-pound-per-year plant to make high-performance nylon resins in Richmond, Va.
The facility, which will double base polymer capacity for DuPont's Zytel HTN-brand nylon, is set to open by the end of 2004. The project is expected to create 20 jobs.
``Demand for Zytel HTN has grown rapidly, even with the economy the way it is,'' said Clive Robertson, global business manager for the product. ``Demand growth should be a little over 20 percent this year, and we should be able to match that in 2004.''
The plant will be housed in an expansion of a structure in Richmond that includes DuPont's original Zytel HTN plant, which opened in 1994. Zytel HTN contains an aromatic element that prevents it from being made on the same lines that produce DuPont's standard nylon 6/6 grades. No cost estimate was available for the project.
Officials at Wilmington-based DuPont said the new plant will support ongoing development of global markets for Zytel HTN in automotive parts, electrical/electronic applications and other consumer and industrial products.
Zytel HTN is used in auto fuel valves and coolant system components, multipin electric connectors, oven fans and manifolds for water heaters. About 60 percent of Zytel HTN sales are into the automotive market, where Robertson said it has replaced metal and thermoset plastics, as well as more expensive thermoplastics such as polyphenylene sulfide.
A recent nonautomotive success for the material was the Trailskate, a 2-foot-long ski/Rollerblade hybrid that uses Zytel HTN in its chassis. The recreational product was commercialized earlier this year by Gateskate Inc. of Richland, Wash. Robertson said Gateskate chose Zytel HTN because of the material's high stiffness and impact strength.
Zytel HTN also recently was commercialized in hot-water valve bodies for showers, where Robertson said the material withstood temperatures of 203° F for 600 hours.
Most of DuPont's Zytel HTN output is compounded at company sites around the world before being sold to processors. Average per-pound selling prices of compounds based on Zytel HTN are between $2 and $4, Robertson said.