Orlando, Fla. — Braskem was at NPE2018 with a new grade of polypropylene, as the firm is getting closer to launching a major new PP production line in Texas.
"From a strategic perspective, our target is to grow in the Americas," Braskem America CEO Mark Nikolich said May 7 in an interview at the show. "We were growing by acquisitions and now we're growing organically with Braskem Idesa [polyethylene] in Mexico and with this new [PP] line."
Mechanical completion of the new line, with almost 1 billion pounds of annual production capacity, is set for the first quarter of 2020 in La Porte, Texas. PP made on the new line initially will be sold into the domestic market.
"We're in a positive growth environment for polypropylene after struggling to grow for a long time," Nikolich said. The new line under construction has had "[Hurricane] Harvey challenges and weather challenges," but it remains on schedule.
Looking ahead, Braskem, which is based in São Paulo with U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia, expects the North American PP market to average 2.5 percent annual demand growth in the near future.
"That's good demand growth for a mature market," Nikolich said.
The new PP grade for Braskem is Prisma 6810, a grade aimed at thermoforming applications. Packaging segment leader Isla Regenye said that the new grades offer a good balance of transparency, stiffness and impact toughness.
Prisma 6810 is being aimed at applications such as refrigerated deli containers, cold blended drink cups, and meat and seafood trays, according to product manager Lisa Jeffrey. The material is already being made at Braskem's plant in Oyster Creek, Texas, but eventually could be made at other Braskem sites as well.
Braskem Americas ranks as North America's largest PP maker. Parent firm Braskem SA is Latin America's largest petrochemicals firm, with sales of $14.7 billion in 2017.