Industry News

Emerald Kalama Opens Center to Focus on Development of K-FLEX® Phthalate-free Plasticizers

Published on 2012-08-09. Author : SpecialChem

CUYAHOGA FALLS, OH -- Emerald Kalama Chemical, a business unit of Emerald Performance Materials, celebrated its 50th year of operation with the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art technical center in Kalama, Washington. The grand opening ceremony, which attracted nearly 150 customers, suppliers, federal, state and local government officials, employees and other key stakeholders, included a luncheon program, formal ribbon cutting and tour of the new facility. The new technical center is focused on applications and formulation support for Emerald's customers world-wide and technology development of K-FLEX® phthalate-free plasticizers and coalescents.

According to Shamsi Gravel, K-FLEX product line manager for the Americas, market demand drove the need for the new technical center, as customers are seeking more environmentally friendly materials that have low VOCs, biodegradability and more favorable product regulatory profiles than phthalate-based plasticizers and traditional high VOC coalescents. "Over the last couple years, rulings regarding phthalates have fueled a significant increase in the number of customer development projects, said Gravel. "The expanded laboratory facilities will enable us to deliver even greater value to our customers by switching to a more environmentally friendly alternative that also can bring many improved performance features to their products. We have even greater capabilities to further develop and expand our range of products, evaluate and optimize performance in targeted end-use applications." Gravel's EMEA colleague, Golnar Motahari Pour, also concurred about the value the expanded capabilities will bring to support growth and serve the customers in her region.

The center includes an array of state-of-the-art instruments used to develop formulations and optimize product performance in a variety of key end-use applications, including latex adhesives, coatings, plastisols, caulks and sealants. Instruments available on-site include devices to measure glass transition, minimum film forming temperatures (MFFT), volatility, material mechanical properties and strength, QUV/accelerated aging performance, color, adhesion and rheology of liquids, organosols and plastisols. Supporting equipment, such as mixing apparatus, mills, lab coaters and brabenders, enable the preparation of a variety of materials into formulated caulks, sealants, paint, multi-layered constructions, coated paper and films. Such analysis is critical in determining very practical performance characteristics, to make sure materials can be processed under acceptable conditions and will stand up to the test of time as needed in the final end-product. For instance, the MFFT apparatus provides data on how warm it would have to be in order to have paint properly coat and adhere to the surface. This impacts the temperature restrictions for product use. Other tests indicate whether the coatings will withstand repeated rubbing, scrubbing, cleaning or exposure to fluids, or how well a vinyl floor holds up under certain wear-and-tear conditions. Scientists use such data to design products that will impact the performance in meaningful ways to deliver more value.

"We have many reasons to celebrate--the 50th anniversary of our Kalama operation this year, the grand opening of our technical center in Kalama and last year's 50-year anniversary milestone at our Rotterdam operation," said Edward T. Gotch, president of Emerald Kalama Chemical. "During these 50 years, we have evolved, changed and grown. We demonstrate that our operations, based in what are typically characterized as high-cost regions, can be competitive and highly successful by us having a clear vision, being open to change and having an organizational culture that embraces the relentless pursuit of continuous improvement, innovation and productivity."

Gotch also recognized Sun Capital Partners for its continued investments to support the growth of the company since acquiring Emerald in 2006. "The investments made since 2006 have enabled us to pursue the exciting path we are now on to transform and grow our business," added Gotch. "We currently have a number of significant investments underway. These include the recently announced K-FLEX capacity expansion in the U.S. and the new operation in Rotterdam. With the start-up of Rotterdam this week, material is now available for testing and customer verification. We'll be sharing more information about these in the near future. Today, with the grand opening of this new state-of-the art technical center, we underscore our commitment to being a world-class organization that serves customers around the globe by providing technology and innovative solutions which deliver real value now and in the future."

Gravel introduced Lanny Cawley, executive director of the Port of Kalama, who added that global growth is a key imperative and that the company's location on port and rail lines is important to serving its customers on a world-wide basis. The company utilizes the ports in the region both for in-coming and out-going ocean shipments. Cawley stressed that one of their key missions is to attract businesses to the region. "Those who understand the importance of economic development know that businesses such as Emerald Kalama not only provide jobs, but also pay taxes that provide revenue to support schools, local government, fire and police departments and other services," said Cawley. "These businesses also buy goods and services from local businesses, as do their employees, creating the so-called multiplier effect of economic development." Cawley is thrilled to see that existing businesses in the region, such as Emerald Kalama, invest, add jobs and support the community through its service projects.

Another VIP attending the ceremony was Matt Croson, president of the Adhesive and Sealant Council, an organization that represents 120 companies and supports the efforts of the $40 billion global adhesives and sealants industry. Croson emphasized the opportunities in the industry and the importance of innovation to value creation. He also applauded Emerald's leadership and "the confidence it takes to make significant investment in an economy that is recovering slowly, in the technology and ability to create products that meet present and future demand, and in the people of the Emerald organization to develop, produce and deliver the value and who literally travel the world to make it happen." Croson added, "This is the very reason why Emerald Kalama Chemical has been around for 50 years and why Emerald will be around 50 years from now."

Emerald Kalama Chemical began its toluene oxidation operation in 1962 under Dow Chemical. The Kalama operation grew, experienced changes in ownership and diversified its portfolio over the years. Manufacturing of the K-FLEX plasticizer products began in 1981. 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 Kalama

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 Kalama

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