US Expansions: Dow starts up MDI distillation and prepolymers facility in Freeport; ExxonMobil starts up LAO, polymers production in Baytown

Dow starts up MDI distillation and prepolymers facility in Freeport

US materials firm Dow has started operations of its new MDI distillation and prepolymers facility at its US manufacturing site in Freeport, Texas. The new facility, which replaces Dow's North America capacity in La Porte, Texas, will enable the company to supply an additional 30% of product to customers. 

In coordination with the start-up of the new MDI facility, Dow shut down its polyurethane assets at the La Porte site.

“Our customers are looking for a cost competitive and reliable supply of key upstream polyurethane raw materials to support their growth,” said Jane Palmieri, president of Dow’s Industrial Intermediates & Infrastructure operating segment. “The back integration at the Freeport site enhances operational flexibility and reliability and delivers a more sustainable production process ensuring that we are best positioned to support our customer needs and downstream growth.”

The firm says its new facility in Freeport delivers a more sustainable production process by:

  • Lowering Dow’s annual greenhouse gas emissions from operations - the equivalent of removing 6,000 cars off the road each year;

  • Decreasing the amount of freshwater intake; and,

  • Reducing the percentage of wastewater discharged annually.

Dow’s PU franchise upgrades key polyurethane components and systems to produce rigid, semi-rigid and flexible foams, and coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers and composites. These products are used in various applications ranging from industrial and infrastructure solutions to consumer comfort solutions such as flooring, furniture, bedding and footwear, to automotive solutions for vehicle interior, and insulation materials.

ExxonMobil starts up LAO, polymers production in Baytown

In other news, materials firm ExxonMobil says it has started up two new chemical production units at its Baytown, Texas, manufacturing facility. The US$2 billion expansion is part of ExxonMobil’s long-term growth plans to deliver higher-value products from its US Gulf Coast refining and chemical facilities.

The new performance polymers line will produce 400,000 tonnes/year of Vistamaxx and Exact-branded polymer modifiers, which can enhance the performance of a broad range of chemical products used to make automotive parts, construction materials, hygiene and personal care products, and various packaging applications.

Vistamaxx can increase the durability of consumer products like reusable containers to extend their useful life while also allowing for higher recycled content. Exact can help meet the growing demand in the auto industry for thinner, lighter weight parts that improve fuel efficiency.

The new linear alpha olefins unit will produce 350,000 tonnes/year of Elevexx-branded products, marking ExxonMobil’s entry into the market. Linear alpha olefins are used in plastic packaging, high-performing engine and industrial oils and other applications. They’re also building blocks for surfactants, which reduce surface tension for cleaning and industrial uses, and drag reducing agents, which allow crude to flow through pipelines more efficiently.

ExxonMobil adds that it maintained its investment in this project through the pandemic and related economic downturn. The company’s extensive project management experience and technology capabilities enabled the units to start up safely according to planned schedule.

ExxonMobil says its Baytown facility is one of the largest integrated and most technologically advanced refining and petrochemical complexes in the world. Founded in 1919, ExxonMobil’s Baytown area operations are located on approximately 3,400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel, about 25 miles east of Houston. It includes a refinery, chemical plant, olefins plant, plastics plant and global technology centre.


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