Confident of ongoing demand, Bayer AG will add 130 million pounds of polycarbonate resin capacity and almost 90 million pounds of PC compounding capacity by the end of the year.
The Makrolon-brand PC expansions will be spread out among Bayer sites in the United States, Belgium, Germany and Thailand. The Leverkeusen, Germany-based firm already has added 130 million pounds at those sites in 2004 and early 2005, officials said in a May 10 news release. By the end of 2005, Bayer will have about 2.2 billion pounds of global PC production.
The PC compounding plant will be in Caojing, China, where Bayer is accelerating the pace of opening an 880 million-pound-capacity plant. The first half of that plant will open in early 2006, with the second half coming online in 2007. Originally, the second half of the $450 million project wasn't set to start up until 2009.
Bayer expects global PC growth to average 8-10 percent annually for the next several years.
``We want to keep pace with this growth and are therefore urgently looking into options for further expansion of our Makrolon capacity above and beyond the measures already announced,'' PC business unit head Gunter Hilken said in the news release.
Bayer's PC growth expectations are in line with those at Houston's Chemical Market Associates Inc. consulting firm. CMAI analyst Ben Smith recently revised the firm's expected PC growth upward to 10 percent annually through 2010.
``2001 was an awful year [for PC], and even in 2003 the market didn't grow that well, but last year it shot back to 13-14 percent growth,'' Smith said in a recent phone interview. ``If the market continues to grow like that, 10 percent [growth] is attainable.''
Smith credited the burgeoning DVD market, as well as growth in automotive uses and electronic parts, for the resurgence in PC demand.
Bayer MaterialScience AG - which includes the PC business - posted sales of 8.6 billion euros ($11.2 billion) in 2004. The unit employs 17,900 at 40 sites worldwide.