CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—Emerald Performance Materials L.L.C. is constructing a pilot plant within its Akron production facility that primarily will focus on the company's Nychem line of specialty nitrile and butadiene emulsion products.
Housing a reactor along with an advanced research and development operation, the pilot plant will develop products based on a broad range of com-- positions, two officials at the company said at the International Latex Conference, held July 23-24 in Fairlawn, Ohio, a suburb of Akron.
Construction of the pilot plant at the Akron facility, which sits on a 92-acre site, is expected to be completed in September, said Julie Vaughn, vice president of business development and marketing services.
The Akron plant has been producing nitrile latex for more than 50 years, she said.
"It's a major investment for us," she said, although financial details were not disclosed.
The new pilot plant "is a key part of Emerald's strategy to expand the range and scope of our capabilities," according to John Zuppo, commercial vice president for the firm's Polymer Additives and Nitriles business group.
It will give the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based specialty chemicals maker the opportunity to be a custom manufacturer on a small scale and optimizes the company's abilities, he said.
The firm will be able to make sample sizes of products for customers at the pilot plant.
Emerald also has added more testing personnel at the Akron facility, Zuppo said.
The pilot plant will support the continued scale-up of new Nychem products by providing the resources needed to develop differentiated and customized nitrile and polymer offerings for the global market, the company said in a news release.
Among other research and development initiatives, the firm said it will pursue new emulsions outside the traditional lattices of butadiene, acrylonitrile and styrene monomers.
"That will allow us to grow in new areas," Zuppo said. "Without new technologies, you can't grow."
With new materials, he said, the company can improve its product capabilities.
Emerald's specialty Nychem emulsions line is used for a variety of niche applications, such as paper, adhesives, specialty coatings, adhesives and tape, coal tar binders, coated fabrics and leather.
Nychem products include nitrile, ABS latex emulsions and styrene butadiene.
The company, with revenues of more than $700 million, has been growing during the last five years, according to Vaughn, and has almost doubled its size during that span. The firm employs more than 750 worldwide.
Emerald has expanded its Kalama, Wash., facility three times and its plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands, twice, she said.
Emerald Kalama Chemical L.L.C., a business group of Emerald Performance Materials, completed an expansion at the Kalama plant in July for its K-Flex line and announced plans to increase capacity for K-Flex non-phthalate plasticizers and coalescents.
It was the second addition at the facility since 2011.
The company upgraded the site's production capabilities and doubled its capacity during the last two years.
This fall, it will dedicate an additional reactor, to be used for production and research and development.
Emerald has completed a major project or expansion every year since the firm was formed in 2006, Edward Gotch, president of Emerald Kalama Chemical, said in a prepared statement.
"With 10 new product concepts active in our R&D pipeline, the new large, semi-works reactor will support product and customer scale-up," he said.
"It will provide an additional 10 million pounds of capacity to support production needs."
In addition, the firm is planning expansions in the U.S., Europe and Asia, he said.
In April, another business group, Emerald Kalama Chemical B.V. in the Netherlands, finished an addition to its Rotterdam plant that included a new flaker production unit for the firm's Purox B pure grade benzoic acid.