AkzoNobel NV spinoff Nouryon Chemicals Holdings BV will bring production of its expandable microsphere material Expancel to North America for the first time with new manufacturing in Wisconsin.
The extent of the investment by the Dutch company in Green Bay has not been released, but it follows a nearly $24 million project in Sundsvall, Sweden, in 2019. The plant will allow the company to better serve its customers in the U.S. as well as being part of a global strategy.
"This [U.S.] investment is an important step to meet the fast-growing demand for this product," said Sylvia Winkel Pettersson, director of Expancel at Amsterdam-based Nouryon. "This will be followed by further increases over the next several years."
Expancel expandable microspheres are used by customers as a lightweight filler and blowing agent to make end products lighter while also permitting different surface effects. The microspheres also reduce costs and environmental impacts by requiring less raw material.
Developed in the mid-1970s, the concept is a simple one, consisting of a small thermoplastic microsphere that encapsulates a gas. When heat is added, the microspheres expand up to 60 times their original size without increasing in weight. This offers advantages such as lower density and better insulation, with key end-use markets including the automotive, construction, packaging and mining industries.
"The ability to create lightweight products with Expancel, such as polymer parts and coatings, presents tremendous growth opportunities as customers drive to implement improved sustainable solutions," said Johan Landfors, president of technology solutions at Nouryon.
The investment in a new plant complements Nouryon's Expancel production sites in Brazil, China and Sweden.
Nouryon has other chemical plants for other products the U.S. already, including an existing site in Green Bay.