Ticona Engineering Polymers remains focused on expanding in China, even though recent events might have slightly altered some time lines and priorities, according to Wilfried Jobst, the firm's Shanghai-based commercial director for Asia.
Last May, Celanese Corp.'s Florence, Ky.-based Advanced Engineered Materials unit, which includes Ticona, acquired DuPont Co.'s Zenite-brand liquid crystal polymer and Thermx-brand PCT specialty resin business, but no related manufacturing assets. That move has only increased Ticona's need for more production capacity for those materials, Jobst said in a Nov. 1 interview on Ticona's K 2010 stand.
Ticona had indicated in 2008 that it eventually would like to build capacity in China to produce its own Vectra-brand LCPs. Now, Jobst said, Ticona is aiming to have such a facility operating at Celanese's integrated chemical plant in Nanjing, China, by 2013. That major facility is the group's only production site in China.
The Nanjing complex also produces Ticona's GUR-brand ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene and its Celstran-brand long- fiber-reinforced thermoplastic resins.
In 2008 Ticona, the world's largest acetals producer, also quietly announced plans to build a plant in Asia to produce acetal, also known as POM, in the next three to five years. Jobst noted that two projects have eased the immediate pressure for an Asian acetal plant:
* In April, Dallas-based Celanese announced plans for a 110 million-pound-capacity Ibn Sina acetal joint-venture plant in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp. The $400 million plant is due to open in 2013.
* Plans continue to open what Ticona calls the world's largest acetal plant, in Frankfurt-HÃ¶chst, Germany, in 2011. That plant will have annual capacity of almost 130 kilotonnes, or about 287 million pounds, and will replace a smaller facility in Kelsterbach, Germany.
But, even so, Jobst said, we still want a POM plant in China.
He would not speculate on the time frame for such a move, however.
Ticona stated recently that it expects to open a development center in December for more than 400 employees at its Asia headquarters in Shanghai, significantly expanding its capacity for research with more extrusion lines, molding equipment and other capabilities.