BERWYN, Pa.—Styron L.L.C. plans to convert a nickel butadiene rubber line at a plant it operates in Schkopau, Germany, to the production of neodymium butadiene rubber.
It will begin converting the nickel butadiene rubber production line in the next few months, according to Francesca Reverberi, global business director of synthetic rubber for the producer of rubber, latex and plastics. The project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Coupled with the Berwyn-headquartered firm's existing technology in solution SBR, it is making the investment to meet increasing demand for green tires and ultra-high performance tires.
In addition to tire manufacturing, the synthetic rubber is used in a variety of other applications, including industrial goods and polymer modification. Financial data on the conversion was not released.
As of now, the company expects that it will continue to supply customers with nickel butadiene rubber until 2016 or 2017, Reverberi said.
The global materials company is looking to further expand its rubber business, broaden its product range and maintain product leadership with the addition, she said.
The neodymium butadiene rubber line will supply the company's tire customers around the world, she said.
“The investment builds on the third SSBR train in Schkopau that we brought on line in late 2012, as well as the expanded capacity we took over earlier this year. These investments are all driven to serve our global tire customers,” Reverberi said.
In February, the company reached an agreement with JSR Corp. under which Styron purchased JSR's current capacity rights at the Schkopau rubber production hub, allowing Styron to further expand its rubber business. The deal was finalized on April 1, and Styron has full capacity rights of the train, Reverberi said.
Styron and JSR had entered into the pact in 2007, which gave JSR capacity rights to 50 percent, or about 30,000 tons of SSBR.
Styron is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the opportunity to boost capacity at the site, she said, because it's a cost-effective way to meet customers' needs.
Schkopau is the ideal location to make the latest conversion investment because of the site's longstanding expertise in rubber technology, said Marco Levi, Styron's senior vice president and business president of emulsion polymers.
He said Styron invests continuously in research and development and production capacity to support the firm's global customer base.