Friedrichshafen, Germany — Wanhua Chemical Group Co. Ltd. came to its first Fakuma focused on its new nylon 12 resin product and on sustainable options.
In late 2022, Wanhua started operations at a nylon 12 unit in Yantai, China. The unit has annual production capacity of about 45 million pounds. "When we entered the market last year, customers said 'Welcome aboard,'" performance polymers overseas business leader Haihong Ren said at Fakuma 2023 in Friedrichshafen. "There was a need for a new [nylon 12] supplier in the market."
The new materials are aimed at automotive tubing systems and similar applications. Wanhua also showcased polysulfone and similar resins at Fakuma, as well as a photovoltaic ethylene-octene elastomer. PSU is used in medical and baby products, as well as in household appliances.
Another new product for Wanhua at Fakuma was Waneco-brand PBAT/PLA biodegradable materials. Those are aimed at single use packaging, medical supplies and similar applications.
Wanhua operates five production sites in China as well as one in Hungary. The Hungarian site makes isocyanates and thermoplastic polyurethanes. The firm also operates three R&D centers: two in China and one in The Woodlands, Texas.
Wanhua was founded in 1978 as a state-owned producer of synthetic leather. The firm later added chemical products and became a private company in late 1998. So far in 2023, Wanhua's most productive end markets have been automotive, medical and agricultural film. The firm sells polypropylene, polycarbonate, TPUs and PBAT into these markets.
In sustainable markets, Wanhua can supply bio-based TPU grades, which were commercialized last year, as well as polypropylene and polycarbonate grades with recycled content. Ren said having both bio-based and recycled content products allows Wanhua to address customers' sustainability needs on a case by case basis. The firm also has set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2048.
Looking ahead, Ren said that he's "very optimistic" about 2024, even as Wanhua faces what he described as "a lot of challenges," including how best to serve a Chinese market that has an aging population but also a large number of people enjoying "a higher quality of life."