Arkema to Build PA Powder Plant in China

13.10.2021 - French chemical producer Arkema has announced it will build a new plant for bio-based polyamide 11 powder at Changsu, China, with start-up planned for 2023. The investment runs parallel to the company’s €350 million mega project taking shape on Singapore’s Jurong Island, the latter encompassing both a PA resins unit and a plant to produce its feedstock, 11-aminoundecanoic acid.

Arkema said the new powder project will contribute to its “ambitious sustainability commitments,” not only by using a highly efficient manufacturing process but also by being physically close to the feedstock unit going up in Singapore. Erwoan Pezron, senior vice president for High Performance Polymers, said both the China and Singapore plants are part of the company’s €450 million exceptional capital spending budget for expanding its position in Asia and will add “significant flexibility” to its global supply chain.

No capacity has been disclosed for any of the new facilities, but Arkema said earlier that the Singapore investment would increase its overall output capability for bio-based PA 11 resin by 50%. The polyamide specialty marketed under the trade name Rilsan goes into demanding applications in the durable home appliances, energy-efficient transport and advanced additive manufacturing (3D printing) sectors.

As both the powder and the polymer are bio-based – the renewable feedstock is derived from castor beans – the French player said these investments will further support the growing demand for advanced bio-circular materials in Asia. “There is strong and growing demand in Asia across all of our key powders markets and this added capacity will enable us to supply the region from within the region,” Pezron said.

Up to now, Arkema has produced PA 11 solely at its Marseilles, France, site. The company gained a berth in South Asia in 2019 with the acquisition of a 25% stake in Ihsedu Agrochem, a subsidiary of its Indian castor oil supplier Jayant Agro-Organics.

The Singapore complex, first announced in 2017, represents the largest investment in Arkema’s history. Initially expected to start up in late 2021, all of the production units are now due for commissioning in the second quarter of 2022. After facing challenges due to the global pandemic, Pezron said the project teams are now operating at full strength, and construction is entering its peak phase.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist