By Liz white, editor
For PU additive suppliers Momentive, it’s October 2010 merger with sister resins company Hexion is a major development (see box below) the company is also “celebrating 70 years in silicones,” said Tony Lanchak, global business director for urethanes additives.
In PU additives, Lanchak believes the group will now be “much more externally focused [in the merged unit] than with the GE heritage.”
Momentive developed the first Niax-brand hydrolysable silicone surfactant for PU in 1962 and now in urethane additives, it claims a “leading position,” across many segments, along with “excellent global infrastructure.”
The company claims to be number one globally in additives for slabstock; number two in moulded foam additives; and number one in specialties – excluding silicones in footwear, Lanchak said.
In additives for rigid foam Momentive “does not have as high a market share as we would like,” so it is putting a lot of focus on there globally, said Lanchak, speaking on 11 October, at the 2010 conference of the Center for the Polyurethane industry (CPI) held with UTECH North America 2010 in Houston, Texas.
At Momentive, “we are the only guys (in urethane additives) basic in siloxanes that are competitive across the playing field,” Lanchak stressed.
It has pendent silicone stabilisers, hydrolysable and non-hydrolysable types, whether ABA or ABN products – “I don’t think anyone in the world can offer such a broad range, in low gel, balanced and also patented delayed-action types,” Lanchak said.
Organic modifiers form “a very significant proportion of our portfolio,” and add an enabling capability for Momentive”, Lanchak said, listing softeners, hardness, colour stabilisers and flame-lamination additives.
“We also have a fairly diverse line of organo-tin derivatives, specialities, adhesion promoters and wet-set improvers, he added.
“But there is absolutely no doubt that what brought us to the dance was the silicone copolymer stabilisers. And when you look at the functionality and geometry of that we do it better than anyone,” Lanchak asserted.
In flexible slabstock (FSS), Momentive is concentrating hard on low VOC types and “green” aspects, he said. Customers need amine-free foam with no residual phenol. The aim is to “drive VOCs to less than 1000 ppm,” said Lanchak
As an example of novel flame-retardants technology, Lanchak pointed to Momentive’s L655 premium FR silicone. This, he said, “allows formulators and foamers to add less FR and still pass the burn test,” – all the while maintaining “the physical properties you tend to lose when you load up with FRs.”
Other demands center on raising productivity and performance, cost-down, additive versatility, and high-performance.
In automotive, “90% of what we do is moulded foam,” where low VOCs and emissions are also important,” Lanchak said.
Foamers are shifting towards MDI from TDI for high-performance. And they want to be able to adjust TDI/MDI ratios, to take advantage of low TDI prices, and “of course the chemistries are totally different.” Momentive’s charts allow users to adjust levels to stabilise foam and optimise formulations.
Products such as L595 and L895 allow foamers to get more – 2 to 3% more bun height – from the same raw material input, with the same or better physical properties, Lanchak said. Momentive is working on a version for high-resilience foams, he added.
Finally, in moulded foams, Lanchak said, Momentive aims to help customers lower volume/density to save weight, without affecting performance in vehicle seating, for example.
Some synergies in merger
Momentive owner Apollo has sales of $7.5bn and earnings (EBIT) of $1.2 bn. Momentive forms $2.5 billion of Apollo sales, and thermoplastics resins group Hexion the rest. The group has 117 facilities, 92 for Hexion and 35 for Momentive.
Momentive’s CEO Craig Morrison becomes CEO of the new group – to be called Momentive. The operation will employ 10,000 people, 6200 from hexagon and 3800 from Momentive.
“These are both product-innovation driven companies,” said Lanchak, adding that while this is not a merger facilities, it will save about $100 million – mostly in sourcing and logistics in materials purchasing, where there is some overlap.