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Emerald Kalama Inaugrates its K-FLEX® Plasticizers Facility in Rotterdam

Published on 2012-10-05. Author : SpecialChem

CUYAHOGA FALLS, OH -- Emerald Kalama Chemical, a business unit of Emerald Performance Materials, celebrated the grand opening of its new K-FLEX® Operation in Rotterdam. The grand opening ceremony, which attracted nearly 100 customers, suppliers, and employees, included a luncheon program, formal ribbon cutting and tour of the new facility. This is the company's first major investment in expanding the range of products at Rotterdam since acquiring the facility from DSM in 2010.

The K-FLEX products, which had been REACH pre-approved, received full REACH registration in August. The company has been manufacturing the K-FLEX product line at its Kalama, Washington (United States) facility for more than 40 years and recently celebrated the grand opening of it global technical center at that site in August.

According to Golnar Motahari Pour, K-FLEX product line manager for EMEA, market demand for more environmentally friendly, high performance alternatives to phthalate-based plasticizers and traditional high VOC coalescents has been growing. "With the increased demand for K-FLEX plasticizers and coalescents in the region, we are thrilled to have this new operation here in Rotterdam," said Motahari Pour. "The start up of the Rotterdam operation has also been very successful. Since the new process in Rotterdam is modeled to duplicate the design of the U.S. plant, we have accomplished our goal to produce equivalent materials at both locations. We have completed the validation process in both internal testing and in customer performance evaluations with excellent results."

"Rotterdam also provides great benefits from a customer service perspective, ideally situated to provide efficient logistics and order lead times for our EMEA customers," added Motahari Pour. "With the new facility here in Rotterdam and our new state-of-the-art technical center capabilities in the U.S., we have the resources in place to support the growth and needs of our customers, regardless of where they are located."

William D. Arendt, research fellow at Emerald Kalama Chemical, elaborated on the importance of the technical center in developing and optimizing product performance. "We strive to deliver superior performance that brings value to our customers," said Arendt. "Key to accomplishing that is being able to simulate customer formulations and process conditions of primary customer applications at the laboratory scale in order to design products with optimal performance." The technical center includes an array of stateof- the-art instruments for analyzing fundamental material properties and end-performance of key end-use applications, including latex adhesives, coatings, plastisols, caulks and sealants.

"The investments made since 2006 have enabled us to pursue the exciting path we are now on to transform and grow our business," said Edward T. Gotch, President of Emerald Kalama Chemical. "Sun Capital Partners has been very supportive to ensure that we are able to add the needed resources to attain our growth strategy. As a result, we have made numerous multi-million-dollar investments to expand capacity, develop and expand our range of new products and add support personnel both here and globally. Today, with the grand opening of our new K-FLEX operation in Rotterdam, as well as the new technical center and further expansions underway in the U.S., we underscore our commitment to being a world-class organization, expanding our global capability to serve our customers world-wide."

Gotch also noted that the Rotterdam operation celebrated its 50-year anniversary this past year. The Kalama, WA operation recently celebrated the same milestone. The two operations originally were built by by Dow Chemical, with the Rotterdam site as a joint venture with the Dutch government. Both plants were sold separately not long after start up, until the 2010 acquisition brought them back together.

"Over these 50 years that the operations have evolved, changed and grown, one thing that has remained constant has been our relentless pursuit of continuous improvement in everything we do," added Gotch. "This has been the cornerstone of building our successful enterprise. Despite being located in what are often characterized as high-cost regions, we have been able to demonstrate that our operations instead can be competitive and highly successful as a result of having a clear vision, being open to change and having an organizational culture that is never satisfied with the status quo but embraces continuous improvement, innovation and productivity. This culture is pervasive from our most senior employees to the youngest members of our team. I am proud of what we have accomplished, excited for what lies ahead and I am confident that another leader standing in my place will celebrate our centennial anniversary in another 50 years."

Emerald Kalama Chemical Rotterdam site manager, Huber Claassen, emphasized the importance of the teamwork in completing the installation. "This was a big investment for us at this facility. From the outset, the project manager and engineers in Rotterdam worked hand-in-hand with the scientists and engineers in the U.S. to duplicate the process from the Kalama, WA operation. In addition to the equivalent design of the processes at the two locations, both operations are also back-integrated with benzoic acid, a key feedstock produced at both sites. The U.S. colleagues were instrumental from the design phase to the start-up and validation phases to assure that the products being produced here meet the same specifications and performance characteristics as those produced in the United States."

"At the peak of construction, we had about 75 contract employees working on the project," added Claassen. "With that many additional workers on site, maintenance of safety, health and environmental, we remained vigilant to assure that safety matters remain our top priority. This has always been a key imperative at both Rotterdam and Kalama, where we maintain excellent safety records. Numerous investments have reduced emissions by 70% and 84% at these sites respectively since 2004. Our job in this area is never done and we continue to invest in projects here that reduce our carbon footprint. We were proud to be the first company in the Rotterdam-Botlek to sign onto the green energy project, which we announced earlier this year. This is just one of many examples of our commitment to continuous improvement at our plant."

The K-FLEX products that are now manufactured at the Rotterdam facility are based on dibenzoate ester chemistry. These products are fast fusing, high polarity plasticizers and provide excellent film formation as coalescents for a wide range of applications, such as vinyl applications, coatings, paint, adhesives, sealants and caulks. In these applications, K-FLEX products are known for enhancing film formation, adhesion, processing characteristics and improving the resistance of the end-product to oil, grease and water. K-FLEX products offer a unique combination of benefits. They are often used to replace general purpose plasticizers as an excellent non-phthalate choice, providing superior compatibility in a wide range of polymers. They have a low VOC content and are non-SVHC and readily biodegradable. K-FLEX materials are also cleared for use under certain FDA food-contact regulations.

In addition to its K-FLEX product line, Emerald Kalama Chemical also produces sodium and potassium benzoate, benzoic acid and intermediates, and specialty flavor and fragrance ingredients, which the company sells globally through its distribution partners. Emerald Kalama Chemical products are used in a range of applications from beverage preservatives to personal care and household products, as well as industrial applications.

About Emerald

Emerald Kalama Chemical is a business unit of Emerald Performance Materials, LLC. Emerald produces and markets technologically advanced specialty chemicals for a broad range of food and industrial applications. Its products play a variety of roles in the products that are consumed and used every day, enabling them to last longer, look, smell, taste or perform better. Emerald™ products are used in aerospace, food, beverages, cosmetics, toothpaste, household products, paint, tires, automobiles, sports gear and many other applications. Headquartered in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Emerald has four business units, eight operations and approximately 700 employees.

Source: Emerald

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