Barrier properties fueling steady growth have convinced Kuraray Co. Ltd. to expand production capacity of ethylene/vinyl alcohol copolymer in Pasadena, Texas.
The Tokyo-based polymers and chemicals major said it will add about 24 million pounds of production capacity of its Eval brand EVOH at the Pasadena site, due to come on stream in summer of 2018. Pasadena can now produce 106 million pounds per year, while Kuraray's total EVOH capacity is 227 million pounds per year, including a debottlenecking program underway in Belgium.
Kuraray said in a May 25 news release that global demand for EVOH is growing 6-7 percent a year. Its high gas-barrier properties have made it a mainstay in a range of food applications and it also is carving a niche in agricultural and industrial applications. The firm also said it is developing new uses for the polymer such as soil pollution-prevention liners and impermeable agricultural fumigation films.
The EVAL expansion announcement came about a month after Kuraray officially opened a new polyvinyl alcohol plant in Bayport, Texas. The company produces PVA under the Poval brand name to supply the fast-growing market for water-soluble PVA films used in a growing number of packaging end-uses.
Kuraray America Inc. plant manager Robert Armstrong noted in a news release that the two projects in Texas represent a $75 million investment. Kuraray America is headquartered in Houston.
EVOH is firmly established as a gas-barrier layer in food applications. In addition to gas barrier characteristics, EVOH's resistance to oil and solvents and its flexibility are being tapped for industrial and agricultural films.
Kuraray also produces EVOH in Japan and Belgium, and it has developed a bio-based barrier polymer named Plantic.