Startup of new pilot plant slated for end of March.

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SABIC (U.S. office in Houston) is making a major investment toward the development of next-generation PP via a new pilot plant, which will be brought on stream in Sittard-Geleen, the Netherlands, by the end of March, 2017.  Using gas-phase polymerization technology, this plant will support the production at nearby full-scale plants of “superior materials that meet the needs of the different industries like automotive, pipe, appliances and advanced packaging,” according to SABIC officials.

In particular, the company is aiming to develop grades with improved stiffness/impact, flow properties and other specific secondary properties needed in different industries. A key focus will be on the development of impact grades of PP, as well as random copolymers and homopolymers. SABIC also plans to experiment on advanced catalysts at this plant, which will complement pilot plants used by SABIC at other strategic locations.

It should be noted that while SABIC does not currently produce polyolefins in the U.S., it did open a specialty PP compounding operation at its Bay St. Louis, Miss., facility in 2012. The plant produces SABIC PP compounds and Stamax long-glass PP pellets, both primarily for automotive applications. Moreover, at K 2016, SABIC officials confirmed that, in conjunction with an ExxonMobil affiliate, they are exploring the building of a petrochemical and derivatives complex, including polyolefins, either in Texas or Louisiana.