Based in Tokyo, JSR inked a deal in November 2013 with MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas P.L.C. to establish a joint venture in Hungary to manufacture SSBR.
Once it no longer has a pact with Styron, it said its next course is to consolidate production capacity in Europe in the JV to establish an optimum supply system of SSBR for customers on the continent.
Styron's agreement with JSR expires March 31, “and Styron will have the right to use 100 percent (of the plant's capacity) as of April 1,” Reverberi said.
That fits into Styron's overall growth plan.
“As owner of the Schkopau rubber complex,” she said, “we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity, particularly as this expansion is strongly in line with our growth strategy within the rubber business, and is a cost-effective solution to meet increasing customer demands.”
With the additional capacity, Reverberi said, “we will be able to react faster to our customers' needs, and at the same time the production can be leveraged to produce our next generation grades.”
She cited two SSBR grades Styron recently launched, both members of the Sprintan family of products: Sprintan SLR 3402 and SLR 4502, both adjusted for improved low-temperature performances.
The two additions to the line have the combined benefits found in existing grades, including reduced stiffness at low temperatures, but they can be blended with other polymers, offering customers greater flexibility, Reverberi said.
Both bring additional reduction in rolling resistance because of their functional technology that is highly effective with silica as well as other carbon blacks, she said.
Synthetic rubber is one of Styron's core business groups, and the firm's strategy is to continue to be a technology leader and innovator in functionalized SSBR, she said. “We plan to do this by staying close to our customers and bringing solutions to them that create true value.”
Reverberi predicted that with more countries across the globe developing legislation on tire labeling in the next few years, the need for SSBR will continue to grow.
“Mobility will remain one of the megatrends in the next decade,” she said, “even if in a currently challenging economic environment, it does not always seem that way.”
Rising prosperity worldwide will lead to an increase in tires and rubber consumption, she maintained, and a scarcity of raw materials—including natural rubber and synthetic rubber—will make it necessary to use less material to get the same or better performances from tires.
That brings specialty rubbers or nanomaterials into play, according to Reverberi.
“In 2013, we have already seen how customer behaviors have changed following the European Union tire label introduction. I am convinced we will continue to see how they embrace better tires that are truly "green.' “