Elastic film demand spurs SIS block polymer investments in Asia
Investments in capacity in China and Taiwan would make Taiwanese elastomer producer TSRC Corp. the largest producer of styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS) block polymers in the world.
Christopher J. Mudd, president and general manager of Houston’s Dexco Polymers, which TSRC acquired in 2011, said its new SIS production line in Nantong, China, outside Shanghai, is now online with 25,000 tons/yr of capacity. The company invested $356.5 million in the site, which will also offer compounding and produce SEBS, BR, and ESBR synthetic rubbers, for a total site-wide capacity of 320,000 tons/yr.
In addition, the company will be adding SEBS capacity in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2015, and in 2016, will have another SIS plant in Taiwan via a joint venture with the Chinese Petroleum Corp. (CPC). That operation will include C5 separation, isoprene monomer extraction, and production of SIS and tackifier resins.
Dexco, which began in 1988 as a joint venture between Dow and Exxon, claims to have created the first pure SIS and SBS product lines, with initial manufacturing sites launched in the U.S. in 1990 and 1991.
Mudd said elastic films are a key application for SIS resins, noting the company has been selling into that space for more than 10 years, relying on what he called “superior properties” to find business in areas like hygiene products.
Mudd said, based on published reports, the global SIS market ranges from 300,000 to 400,000 tons/yr, with growth global growth outpacing GDP but expected to be higher in China.