R&D centres: UniteChem’s second centre in Shanghai; Indorama Ventures new IOD centre in Texas

UniteChem’s second centre in Shanghai

Additives firm UniteChem Group is making major investments to further expand the availability of its technical support capabilities for customers in Europe and worldwide. As part of the company’s commitment to invest 5% of its total revenue in R&D, UniteChem has recently opened a second R&D and Innovation Center in Shanghai, complete with testing, analysing and process evaluation equipment.

“Backed by over two decades of market experience with light stabilisers and other performance additives, we are determined to take our expertise beyond China and meet the growing demands of global customers at all levels,” says Junyi Lin, CEO of UniteChem Group. “The investment in our new second Shanghai R&D Center confirms this strategy and is a logical complementation of recent sales expansions, including our European warehouse in Antwerp, Belgium, and the recently opened sales office in Düsseldorf, Germany.”

The new Shanghai Center provides extensive testing, analysing and process evaluation support for global polymer and masterbatch producers, major OEM brands as well as local plastic converters and compounders. Staffed with technical and industry specialists who combine more than 30 years of dedicated experience in plastic additives, it more than doubles UniteChem’s existing R&D and innovation capacity and has been purpose-designed to accelerate the time of dedicated sampling for customers worldwide.

Next to injection moulding, film blowing and casting machines, the equipment at the new R&D Center is spearheaded by a twin-screw extruder serving a wide range of compounding tasks at screw speeds of up to 1,000 rpm. A Xenon and thermal oxygen aging chamber with large water-cooled instruments and a rotating rack unit enable comprehensive accelerated weathering tests. A multi-element analyser for intermediates facilitates product modifications and process adjustments while featuring reproducibility. An array of molecular weight samplers helps in running simultaneous tests e.g. to improve the control of analyte retention, enhance mass spectral sensitivity, minimise cross-contamination and investigate various different chromatographic options. Further devices also include a torque rheometer, a plate vulcaniser and a UV/VIS spectrophotometer.

“UniteChem has a proud history of driving the development of efficient and sustainable additive solutions, including in particular hindered amino light stabilizers, for use in all major applications areas of the plastics industry”, adds Heiko Strunz, Sales Manager Europe. “While addressing important current trends and future market needs, our extended corporate R&D capacity now helps us respond even faster and brings our innovative services significantly closer to both upstream and downstream customers.”

Indorama Ventures new IOD centre in Texas

In other news, Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited (IVL) has started developing a new technology centre under its Integrated Oxides & Derivatives (IOD) business at The Woodlands, Texas, US. The new facility will be the company’s US R&D hub for new products used in the home, personal and industrial cleaning, agrochemicals, energy, lubricants, mining, and coatings markets.

Alastair Port, IOD President/COO, said, “IOD is committed to strengthening our innovation platforms and meeting our customers’ market needs. Our new facility will be a significant milestone on our ‘future ready’ roadmap and serve as a centre of excellence for the development of new niche and sustainability product lines. The Woodlands landscape creates a perfect setting for this investment.”

The IOD business, which was acquired from Huntsman in January 2020, is one of IVL’s three global business segments together with the fibres and combined PET segments. IVL continues to invest in IOD R&D to improve product efficacy and processes and support environmental stewardship.

Extensive designing and engineering of the research centre will start in coming months, and full occupation is expected in early 2022. It will be a hub for IOD research in the Americas, with links to sister facilities in Australia, India, and China. The Woodlands facility will also support IVL’s fibres and PET segments on various sustainability projects. IVL, the world’s biggest maker of fully recyclable PET bottles, is investing US$1.5 billion to towards its recycling and net zero targets.


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