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Emerald tackles VOC emissions with new products

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Marianne Conner (left), applications chemist with Emerald Kalama Chemical L.L.C., and Gina Macy, the firm's applications technician, R&D, staff the company booth at the recent Adhesive and Sealant Council 2014 Fall Convention and Expo in Greenville, S.C.

KALAMA, Wash.—Emerald Kalama Chemical L.L.C. is developing two products in response to market demands for lower emissions of volatile organic compounds and evolving standards for food contact applications.

X-121 and X-613, both projected to be market ready in 2015, are plasticizers designed to tackle those problems and expand the range of the firm's K-Flex brand. Emerald said nearly 50 percent of its sales are from products it has developed within the last five years.

“What we are really focused on is developing and launching these new products to continue to expand the K-Flex platform,” said Shamsi Gravel, vice president and general manager of Emerald's K-Flex line.

X-121 was designed to provide a higher molecular weight polymeric material consisting of ultra-low VOCs, Application Chemist Emily McBride said via email. The product is designed for use in adhesives, caulk, sealants and vinyl applications. Gravel said the product is projected to be market ready by mid-2015.

X-613 is a three-phenyl propyl benzoate, which McBride said is classified as a European flavor additive. The product is targeted for plastisols, paints and other coatings, adhesives, and inks, especially those in food contact applications. Gravel said X-613 likely will launch in first quarter 2015.

“These products are really geared toward non-phthalate or phthalate replacement,” Gravel said. “Phthalates have been classified as an HVHC, which is a substance of very high concern, by the European Chemicals Agency. They've also been cited by the World Health Organization, specifically in its 2013 report. That's really why we're looking at this platform, and these new products, as well as our other K-Flex brands, to go into phthalate applications right now.”

Emerald said thermoplastic applications represent about 85 percent of all plasticizer consumption. McBride said X-121 may be a suitable replacement for higher viscosity specialty phthalate plasticizers that might be exiting the market because it is low in VOCs. X-613 also exhibits low plastisol viscosity over other fast-fusing plasticizers and both exhibit outstanding gel fusion characteristics, the company said.

Emerald has been expanding to support new developments such as X-121 and X-613. The firm commissioned a technical center about two years ago; a new production line at its plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2012; and brought an additional 75 kilo-ton capacity expansion of its benzoic acid online at Rotterdam. That brings its total production worldwide to 250 kilo-tons.

Emerald Kalama, a business group of Emerald Performance Materials L.L.C., employs about 250 people combined at its locations in Kalama and Rotterdam. The firm said it has more than doubled its K-Flex capacity at Kalama as a result of its new product development.

Emerald would not disclose exact figures but said it has spent tens of millions of dollars on expanding its capabilities.