HOUSTON (Feb. 20) — ExxonMobil Chemical has started commercial production of metallocene-catalyzed ethylene elastomers at its plant in Baton Rouge, La., nearly three years after announcing the $150 million expansion project.
The facility, on the site of ExxonMobil's more traditional EPDM and butyl rubber plant, is rated at more than 90,000 metric tons annually, the firm said, and will be the company's global supply point for the new materials. A portion of the new capacity is dedicated to ExxonMobil's Vistamaxx line of specialty elastomers launched last summer at the 2003 National Plastics Exhibition.
Mary Ahner, vice president of ethylene elastomers, called the expansion a "a key step in advancing our ethylene elastomer product portfolio."
The new plant features a "flexible solution platform" based on ExxonMobil´s proprietary Exxpol metallocene catalyst technology, said Hans VanBrackle, global technology manager, ethylene elastomers. This technology will "provide a high degree of potential for polymer design innovation."
Basic process and catalyst technologies used in this plant were developed in-house by ExxonMobil process technologists. Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding, Inc. and its subsidiary Engineers and Constructors International Inc. built the plant.
ExxonMobil´s ethylene elastomer product line consists of Vistamaxx, Exact plastomers, Vistalon EPDM, Exxelor chemically modified polymers and Santoprene thermoplastic elastomers.