The factory's manufacturing capacity has been expanded to 24,000 tonnes per year at a cost of €80 million.
Linked to the capacity expansion, EVAL Europe, a subsidiary of Kuraray, has also constructed a new processing and development hall for the European EVAL technical centre, which serves customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This is designed to both accelerate and increase the amount of EVAL EVOH research and product development done in Europe.
EVAL resins have the highest gas impermeability rate of any plastic (approximately 10,000 times that of ordinary polyethylene). The primary application for EVAL EVOH copolymer resins is food packaging, where EVAL resins provide excellent gas barrier properties and resistance to odour and flavour permeation.
EVAL resins can also help to protect the environment by minimising harmful fuel vapour permeation from fuel tank, line and filler pipe, allowing fuel systems to conform to strict international emission standards. EVAL is also used to make pipes for floor heating systems.
The new capacity ensures Kuraray's position as the leading manufacturer of EVOH resins and demonstrates its continued confidence about the future growth of EVOH markets worldwide. The average annual growth rate of demand for EVAL EVOH copolymer resins is expected to be 10 per cent over the next decade.
Growth is centred in Europe, North America and Japan, but new demand growth is predicted in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Asia and Latin America where lifestyles and standards of living are changing.
EVAL Europe, established in 1997, is a fully owned subsidiary of Kuraray. The group became the first in the world to develop and commercialise the high-performance EVOH resin EVAL in 1972.
The Antwerp plant started production in September 1999 with an annual capacity of 10,000 tons, quickly expanded to 12,000 in 2001. In addition to EVOH resin production, the EVAL Europe site includes sales, technical service and administrative offices.
Kuraray is the world's leading manufacturer of EVOH resins. Kuraray supplies its customers worldwide with EVAL EVOH copolymer resins from plants in Pasadena, Texas, USA (23,000 tonnes per year, previously the largest EVOH facility in the world), Okayama, Japan (10,000 tonnes per year) and Antwerp, Belgium.
With the expanded EVAL Europe plant, Kuraray's total world-wide capacity for EVAL resins now exceeds 57,000 tonnes per year.
The USA plant (EVAL Company of America) announced on 2 August 2004 its plan to expanded its manufacturing capacity by 24,000 tonnes per year, scheduled for completion in March 2006. This new planned expansion will bring the total EVAL capacity to 81,000 tonnes per year.
The capacity expansions in Europe and the USA position Kuraray to continue to support its customers' increasing EVOH requirements and demonstrate Kuraray's global commitment to new application development.