Dow to increase capacities for silicones, PG and speciality materials

Arburg launches cube mould machine for low volume output of technical parts

US chemical major Dow has announced a series of capacity expansions for its silicones, propylene glycol (PG) and specialty materials units to support growing demand across key end-markets, all of which, it adds, continue to grow faster than GDP. In PG, it is expanding its Thai facility to up capacity to 250 kiltonnes/year; plus it recently announced a new Freeport MDI facility that will replace Dow’s current North America capacity in La Porte, Texas, and will also be capable of supplying an additional 30% of product.

In Dow’s Consumer Solutions business, several key growth projects are planned to come online globally throughout 2021 and will increase capacity of silicone elastomers and thermally conductive materials; silicone polymers and sealants; silicone engineered materials and pressure sensitive adhesives and CatHEC (cationic hydroxyethylcellulose) polymers and PEGs (polyethylene glycols) – addressing a variety of home and personal care applications.

Though the company did not provide details of the capacity expansions, it added that these “expansions build on Dow’s previous investments in its Consumer Solutions business, including more than 20 key debottleneck, efficiency improvement and growth capital projects throughout 2019 and 2020.”

Some of the previously announced expansions include a new installation to improve productivity for compounding high consistency rubber (HCR) and fluorosilicone rubber at Dow's UK site in Wales. Plus last year, Dow signed an MoU with the Zhangjiagang Free Trade Zone in China for a potential investment of US$290 million in new capacity for silicone intermediates and finished products.

“Dow is committed to investing in differentiated silicone and specialty materials assets to drive innovation and grow with our customers globally,” said Mauro Gregorio, President, Dow Performance Materials & Coatings. “There is growing demand for high-performance materials that enable sustainable solutions, and we look forward to further collaboration with our industry partners and customers following these expansions.”

In Dow’s Polyurethanes & Construction Chemicals business, the company plans to increase propylene glycol (PG) capacity at its existing facility in Map Ta Phut, Thailand by 80,000 tonnes/year – bringing total capacity to 250,000 tonnes/year. Once complete this will make the Dow Map Ta Phut PG facility the largest of its kind in Asia Pacific. The capacity will support customer growth across Asia Pacific and India and is expected to come online in 2024.

Dow’s PG franchise upgrades basic chemical building blocks to produce ingredients for cosmetics, food, pharmaceuticals and many other products for everyday use.

Dow also recently announced plans to build an integrated MDI distillation and prepolymers facility in Freeport, Texas. This investment supports increasing demand for downstream polyurethane systems products and advances Dow’s leading positions in attractive applications in construction, consumer, and industrial markets.

The new Freeport MDI facility will replace Dow’s current North America capacity in La Porte, Texas, and will also be capable of supplying an additional 30% of product to Dow’s customers. In coordination with the start-up of the new MDI facility, expected in 2023, Dow will shut down its polyurethane assets at the La Porte site.

These investment plans fall within the Company’s previously committed capital expenditure targets.


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