Eval Co. of America (Evalca) is doubling the size of its ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer plant in Pasadena, Texas. The $150 million project was launched in early August and is to be completed by March 2006.
Evalca's Eval-brand copolymers are used in food packaging, auto fuel tanks, floor-heating pipe systems and other areas where high gas-barrier properties are needed.
The material's gas impermeability is 10,000 times that of polyethylene, officials said.
The addition will create a small number of new jobs. The expansion - which will take the plant's annual capacity from 51 million pounds to 104 million - is needed because EVOH demand is growing at a rate of at least 10 percent a year, officials added.
``Most of our demand growth is in food packaging, which makes up about 70 percent of the EVOH market,'' George Avdey, vice president of sales-Americas, said in a recent telephone interview.
``There are so many new innovations in food packaging that use EVOH,'' Avdey added. ``In snack foods, it's being used in stack containers for chips. In cannisters, the new plastic coffee can has an EVOH layer.''
Another area of EVOH food-packaging growth has been in hang-tag meat packages, which can extend the shelf life of packaged meat to 14-21 days, from two or three, according to Avdey.
Recent product modifications also have improved the presence of EVOH in shrink film and beverage bottles, Avdey said.
Houston-based Evalca - a unit of Kuraray Co. Ltd. of Osaka, Japan - has enjoyed double-digit demand growth in each of the past three years and expects to do the same in 2004, Avdey said.
Kuraray also manufactures EVOH in Japan and in Belgium, where a 25 million-pound-capacity expansion is expected to be operational in September.
Evalca ranks as North America's largest EVOH maker, with a market share of more than 50 percent. Kuaray also leads the global EVOH market.