IRVING, Texas—ExxonMobil is adding a new line at its Baytown, Texas, complex that will produce 400,000 metric tons a year of its Vistamaxx-brand specialty elastomer, more than doubling its global capacity for the material.
The project is part of a $2 billion expansion project at Baytown that the company said will maximize the value of increased production from the Permian shale oil basin, the company said in a May news release.
In addition, ExxonMobil said in mid-May that it had completed the expansion of its Santoprene-brand thermoplastic vulcanizate facility in Wales.
The new Vistamaxx line in Baytown will be incorporated into the existing chemical plant, said Lyn Greenwood, the project manager for the expansion project. She said construction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021 with operations beginning in 2022.
"This investment shows our continued commitment to the market," Greenwood said.
She said the $2 billion Baytown project is in addition to ExxonMobil's "Growing the Gulf" initiative that it announced in 2017 and is aimed at building and expanding manufacturing facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The firm did not break out how much of the investment is targeted for the Vistamaxx line.
"Our substantial investments in the U.S. support ExxonMobil's long-term growth plans and will result in thousands more high-paying jobs," Darren Woods, ExxonMobil chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Through the billions of dollars that we're investing in the Permian Basin to increase oil production and the expansion of our operations along the Gulf Coast, our company is making significant, lasting contributions to the U.S. economy and the many communities where we operate."
ExxonMobil first introduced Vistamaxx into the market in 2004. Elastomers in the line are semi-crystalline performance polymers with tunable amorphous content that is compatible with other polyolefinic materials. The firm said Vistamaxx materials produce goods that offer higher levels of elasticity, softness and flexibility, which contribute to a reduction in materials used and increased performance.
The expansion will bring ExxonMobil's global capacity for Vistamaxx to 700,000 tons a year, according to Lauren Edwards, America's market development manager for Vistamaxx. It also produces the elastomer at sites in Baton Rouge, La., and Singapore.
"We're doubling capacity because the market continues to grow and we're finding value for Vistamaxx polymers in various market segments to try to improve the innovation capabilities that our customers have," Edwards said.
Vistamaxx is used in such applications as adhesives, roofing, flooring, automotive, packaging films, hygiene products, masterbatches and goods that utilize a percentage of recycled material.
For example, Edwards said in roofing Vistamaxx is used as a blend component to support optimizing the cost of formulation, improving the installation of thermoplastic polyolefin or bitumen-modified roofing, and enhancing the performance of compounds.
In heavily filled mats—for automotive or other purposes—the elastomer is used to improve flexibility, crack resistance, filler dispersion and loading capabilities. "You're able to improve the amount of filler loading in those mats and still maintain the flexibility of them," she said.
ExxonMobil also promotes Vistamaxx in hot melt adhesives as an alternative polymer base in formulations that enable users to increase polymer loading, reduce oil filler and because of the lower density of the specialty polymer enable "high mileage," or the ability to use less of the adhesive to gain the same performance."As we've learned over time and continued to innovate with the product design, we've been able to help and support our customers in an even wider variety of applications than where we started in 2004," Edwards said.