ConocoPhillips of Houston has appointed Basell North America of Wilmington, Del., to be the exclusive purchaser and marketer of polypropylene resins produced at the new ConocoPhillips Bayway plant in Linden, N.J. The 775-million-lb/yr plant is scheduled to start up early next year. It was built initially as a joint venture of Union Carbide Corp. and oil refiner Tosco Corp. After Dow bought Union Carbide, it withdrew from the venture. Tosco then was acquired by Phillips Petroleum, which subsequently merged with Conoco to form ConocoPhillips.
The plant utilizes Unipol II gas-phase technology in two lines that will produce homopolymer and random and impact copolymers. ConocoPhillips will produce the resins to Basell’s specifications. Basell has experience using this process in some of its own plants, notes Basell president Chuck Platz.
He adds that the new homopolymer PP line will fill in for the D-line at the company’s Bayport, Texas, site that has been idled since early 2001. That unit is due to be brought back on stream in Jan. 2004, depending on market demand. Meanwhile, Basell is considering modifying the Bayport Spheripol-process plant to be the first in North America to make Basell’s Metocene metallocene PP. Tel: (302) 996-6000, www.basell.com
Mazda Launches First LFRT Front-End Module In North America
Long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFRT) have scored a first on this continent with the unveiling of the new front-end module for the all-new 2003 Mazda 6 mid-size cars from Mazda Motor Corp. of Japan. The new vehicles are scheduled for first production this month and will go on sale in January. The cars contain a structural front-end module and structural front and rear door modules made of 40% long glass in polypropylene. A special low-viscosity, high-crystallinity PP formulation of Verton MFX from LNP Engineering Plastics, Exton, Pa., is said to provide more than 30% higher flow than standard long-glass PP. This reportedly enables molding thinner walls and results in a resin-rich surface. Also, easier flow facilitates parts integration: The front-end module holds the radiator components, fan assembly, and hood latch. The door module holds the speakers, latch assembly, door-lock actuator, and window regulator.
The front-end module weighs 7.74 lb and is injection molded by DDM Plastics, Inc., Tillsonberg, Ont. The door modules weigh about 2.34 lb and are injection-compression molded by Automold of America, Inc. in Auburn Hills, Mich. Injection-compression permits molding thinner walls—less than 3 mm—while reducing shear on the glass so as to preserve longer fibers for higher impact strength.
Phaze II LLC, a new company in Waterbury, Conn., recently obtained financing for construction of its first plastics compounding plant. The company has developed its own endothermic chemical foaming agents, which it intends to sell in thermoplastic masterbatch form. Phaze II also aims to compound exothermic foaming agents from other firms. Phaze II has its own patent-pending compounding process to produce foam masterbatches for polyolefins, styrenics, nylons, PPE alloys, and polyether-amide TPE (AtoFina’s Pebax). “This is a new means of producing masterbatches containing these new endothermic foaming agents,” says managing partner Robert Lapierre.
He says initial tests show the new endothermic foaming agents can achieve smaller cells than traditional endothermic products. Their decomposition temperatures also appear to fit within a narrower temperature range, and they excel in consistency of gas yield and decomposition temperature, says Lapierre. Tel: (203) 755-6440, firstname.lastname@example.org
The first production-model rotary, twin-sheet thermoforming machine dedicated to automotive fuel tanks has been delivered to Visteon Corp. in Dearborn, Mich. The machine was built by Brown Machine LLC in Beaverton, Mich. Visteon has been working with Brown and with PTi in Aurora, Ill., a maker of sheet extrusion equipment.
“Our specially developed thermoforming machine for automotive fuel tanks breaks a lot of new ground,” says Brown president Dick Lacana. He reports that an unspecified number of additional machines are on order. He also says the customer expects the first fuel tanks to appear commercially in the 2004 model year.
Visteon currently blow molds fuel tanks. Thermoforming reportedly makes a lighter tank and offers greater design freedom to meet emission requirements by locating fuel-system components such as venting systems and baffles inside the tank.
Vyncolit North America Inc. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a subsidiary of Perstorp Group of Sweden, has agreed to acquire the assets of the Moldable Composites Div. of Rogers Corp. in Rogers Conn. This division produces thermoset molding compounds for electrical and automotive uses. They include phenolic, epoxy, silicone, DAP, and proprietary formulations. Rogers intends to focus on printed-circuit materials and high-performance foams.
The acquisition will increase Perstorp’s presence in the U.S. market and add a domestic production unit. The Moldable Composites Div. will become part of the Engineering Phenolics unit of Perstorp’s Engineering Materials Business, which supplies glass-reinforced phenolic molding compounds to the European automotive industry through Vyncolit N.V. in Belgium. The acquired Rogers business will be managed together with Vyncolit from Vyncolit’s U.S. office. Tel: (248) 452-5655, www.vyncolit.com
Kraton Polymers, the Houston-based supplier of SEBS-type TPEs, is increasing its global capacity for Kraton G resins by around 20%. The project includes doubling its capacity at its U.S. plant in Belpre, Ohio, by mid-2004. A substantial expansion in France is also planned. Garret Davies, global director for Kraton G materials, says the expansion is driven in part by strong demand for new soft-touch applications.
Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank has acquired the flat-die business of Extrusion Dies Inc. (EDI), Chippewa Falls, Wis. The deal substantially reduced EDI’s debt load and set the stage for expansion of its strategic investment program, according to EDI president and CEO Timothy C. Callahan. EDI is a leading international supplier of flat dies and feedblocks for extrusion. Under the new legal name Extrusion Dies Industries LLC, EDI will continue to operate with its existing management and staff.