CLEVELAND—Versalis, the Milan-based chemicals subsidiary of Italian oil and gas giant Eni S.p.A., is bent on maintaining its market position with a combination of new technologies, joint ventures and plant expansions, Versalis representatives said at the ACS Rubber Division's recent Rubber Expo in Cleveland.
Among Versalis' expansions and innovations are:
• Expanding EPDM capacity in Europe to 135,000 metric tons annually by revamping its existing plant in Italy by the second quarter of 2015.
• Establishing a joint venture EPDM plant in South Korea with Lotte Chemical Corp. by early 2017, with a nameplate capacity of 100,000 tons per year. As with the firm's EPDM facility in Italy, the South Korean plant will have full upstream integration with raw monomers of ethylene and propylene, the company said.
• Joining 50-50 with Novamont S.p.A. to take an existing petrochemical plant in Sardinia and create Matrica, a production and research and development center for green chemistry.
• Partnering with San Diego-based bioengineering firm Genomatica Inc. to develop bio-based butadiene.
• Partnering with Woodridge, Ill.-based Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc. on a metathesis project to produce biochemical from vegetable oils.
• Partnering with Phoenix-based Yulex Corp. to grow the guayule shrub and produce guayule-based rubber in Southern Europe.
• Conducting in-house R&D to extract sugars from biomass and high oleic oil from sugars.
In Cleveland, Versalis representatives said it plans to make further inroads into the North American market with its new grades of Dutral EPDM, and also with its solution SBRs.
Versalis products have been distributed in the U.S. since the late 1980s through commercial offices in New York and Houston, the Versalis representatives said. The new products, however, should give Versalis a higher North American profile than ever before.
“We're convinced the performance of this SBR will be recognized in the North American market,” said Angelo Lucio Spelta, Versalis technical management automotive and thermoplastics elastomers manager for the firm's elastomers business unit.
Versalis currently offers 390 chemical and elastomer products from 12 production plants in Europe, eight of them in Italy, according to the company website. It employs 5,200 around the world and its five research centers have obtained more than 250 patents.