DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del., is investing $150 million to grow its ethylene copolymer business in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
In the United States, DuPont will improve production at its Elvax-brand ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer plant in Victoria, Texas. Separate projects will be completed there this year and in 2009. The firm also will enhance production of Surlyn-brand ionomers and Vamac-brand ethylene acrylic elastomers in Orange, Texas. Separate projects again will be completed later this year and in 2009.
In Europe, DuPont will add capacity for Fusabond-brand modifiers and Bynel-brand adhesive resins in Dordrecht, Netherlands, by 2009.
The projects in Texas and the Netherlands join a previously announced EVA plant that DuPont will build near Beijing with Chinese petrochemical maker China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec. That plant — with annual capacity of about 130 million pounds — is set to open in 2009.
In total, work at the four sites is expected to boost DuPont's total annual ethylene copolymer capacity by more than 200 million pounds.
The enhancements are expected to create a small number of jobs over time, according to company spokeswoman Cathy Branciaroli.
The new capacity is needed to handle growth in automotive, packaging and photovoltaic markets, officials said in a May 7 news release. Photovoltaic technology growth comes from increased use of solar panels, where DuPont materials are used in various layers, Branciaroli said.
In the automotive market, the firm's ethylene copolymers are being used more often in under-the-hood parts that need high-temperature performance. Packaging uses are highlighted by the ability to link polymers that previously had not been compatible, Branciaroli added.
DuPont posted first-quarter sales of $8.6 billion, a jump of 9 percent from the year-ago period. Its performance materials unit — including nylon, ethylene copolymers and other specialty plastics — saw sales grow 8 percent to $1.7 billion.
The unit's pretax profit soared 39 percent to $219 million. Based on first-quarter sales, DuPont's performance materials ranked second among its five business units.