New capacity going into China, India, Brazil and Antwerp
Byline: Liz White
In its Urethane Additives business, Momentive Performance Materials is trying to make every pole as “self-sufficient as possible,” to serve the local markets, make the supply chain simpler and gain some cost synergies, said Tony Lanchak, global business director for that unit.
As part of this approach, the business is putting “significant finished goods capacity into China (in Nantong) to take advantage of our ability to make what we sell locally, as far back in the value chain as possible,” Lanchak said.
In April 2011, it announced a tripling of capacity at its Zhejiang Xinan JV in Jiande, China, to 150 kilotonnes per annum.
At the end of this year Momentive will add a second finished goods kettle at Nantong for silicone surfactants. Then in the first quarter next year it will back-integrate this to SiH fluids. “At that point, essentially we will be able to do what we do with almost global raw material capability,” the Momentive executive commented.
Momentive has also invested in Shanghai and is making both flexible and rigid additives in Chennai in India — and “will continue to extend the products there as time goes by,” said Lanchak, in a 26 Sept interview at the meeting of the US Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, in Nashville, Tennessee.
As well as the second finished goods kettle at Nantong, it has added the same range at Ititaba in Brazil, with some speciality grades. Momentive is also expanding what it does at Antwerp. By mid 2012, “we will have dramatically expanded our portfolio there,” Lanchak continued.
Additives sold out in 2010/11
Lanchak said the business was oversold in 2010/11. Now, with significant extra capacity, and having simplified the supply chain to grow capacity where the market is, Urethane Additives is “much better positioned to service our global customers,” he said.
Lanchak feels Momentive’s Urethanes Additives busines is is a market leader everywhere — flexible slabstock, moulded, microcellular. The exception is in rigid foam, where it has ambitions to grow and be the top supplier, Lanchak commented.
The business develops new products at global resource bases at Leverkusen, Germany; Sistersville, West Virginia; Japan and in China, and Momentive complements that with applications development centres in Singapore, Itatiba in Brazil, and in Korea, India and Russia.
Urethanes Additives is highly global, with half of its business in the BRIC countries and 80 percent outside the US. It is “extremely well-positioned for growth over the next five years,” Lanchak observed.
Momentive is also the only major supplier of additives for polyurethanes based in siloxanes.
“Niax is a strong brand,” asserted Lanchak, claiming: “We do silicone copolymers better than anybody — not just the silane backbone, but the ability to leverage off what we do in speciality silicone fluids.”
Alkylene oxide modification of the silicone backbone is Momentive’s speciality and it is able to take advantage of both the unique SiH structure and the way it is able to add the alkylene oxides as pendant, terminal ABA or even ABN groups.
“ABAs are not unique to us, but ABNs are, and they give unique cell opening. You think use starts to narrow into visco, but you’d be surprised at how that is now finding its way across multiple uses,” such as flexible, moulded flexible for automotive, and rigid. For rigid, “open celled foam is getting to be a bigger deal,” Lanchak added.
Fast product development
Lanchak is proud that today 30 percent of sales are from products developed in the last five years.
“We want to be the innovation leader, the one that customers think of first when they want to solve a technical problem,” Lanchak said.
At the CPI event in Nashville, Momentive’s theme was flexible slabstock, looking at additives for higher productivity, to gain more yield out of a given set of inputs. Here Momentive is looking at multifunctional silicones, for raising productivity to give better yield, Lanchak said.
Momentive also aims for additive versatility, for example, achieving better fire performance with lower amounts of additives, adjusting to different BAs, and lowering VOC levels with phenol-free antistatic agents. Here the aim is to lower VOC levels to meet the CertiPur labels — in Europe or the US.
For moulded foam for automotive seats it is “all about low VOC foam, using silicone catalysis.”
There is a shift from use of TDI (toluene diisocyanate) to MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) or mixed foams such as TM20 for seat foams, Lanchak observed. For rigid foam, the focus is on better K values and good insulation performance. Whether the blowing agent is water, hydrocarbons (HCs) or hydrofluorocarbons, the aim is to reduce sub-surface voids, and Momentive’s route here is by creating silicone additives to allow better compatibility and miscibility of the HC BAs. This way, foamers get more free-flowing material, fewer sub-surface voids, and better insulation.
In moulded foam, Momentive offers several products which allow foam with lower VOCs, It’s the exclusive distributor for Fomrez UL54 from Galato Chemicals, used because the move to eliminate methyl tin (and possibly butyl or octyl tin), means new catalysts are needed.