23 July 2019

HMC Expanding Production


HMC Polymers announced on June 26 plans to construct a fourth Polypropylene plant at its Map Ta Phut site in Rayong Province Thailand, bringing HMC’s total PP capacity to over 1,000 KT further boosting its position as SE Asia’s largest PP producer.

"HMC will continue our mission to push the boundaries of Polypropylene product performance” stated President, Mr. Martyn Tickner. “We believe our key markets in NE and SE Asia, Japan, India and Australia will continue to evolve towards more advanced product requirements. HMC has unique capabilities to meet those requirements and combined with our strong support from Joint Venture associates PTT Global Chemical, LyondellBasell and leading Thai investors, we can further expand our differentiated product offering and achieve substantial value growth. Our new capacity will also ensure that we can continue to support the growth of our long standing and very loyal base of Thai customers."

Construction of the new unit will allow HMC to maintain domestic market share and aims to address the projected five to six percent annual demand growth for polymers in the Southeast Asia Region.

Mr. Tickner further explained that HMC have entered into a License Agreement with leading PP Technology provider LyondellBasell, and have now completed the process design of the most advanced Spherizone plant in the history of this superior technology. The new plant will produce approximately 220 KT pa of specialty PP resins, targeting both consumer and industrial markets, and is expected to start-up in first half of 2022.

“Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, with demand for polymers boosted by expanding populations, increasing individual wealth and urbanization. LyondellBasell’s Spherizone technology will help to address those growth opportunities,” said Jim Seward, LyondellBasell Vice President, Sustainability, Technology and Joint Ventures. “Our technology provides solutions for the transportation of clean water through strong and long lasting pipes and contributes to the preservation of food through packaging and films that improve portability, extend shelf-life and prevent contamination.”

The New Spherizone Plant – Four Key Questions – Plus One
Due to the fact that this new investment will be the fourth PP plant for HMC Polymers, HMC Connect asked HMC President Martyn Tickner four key questions about the exciting new Spherizone technology to come and the benefits it will deliver to HMC customers – plus one more.

Q1. Spherizone technology allows for the production of a wide range of high-performance PP and novel polyolefin resins. Can you describe how Spherizone properties can be differentiated from volume PP produced from the Spheripol process and which markets benefit most?

Khun Martyn: Both Spherizone and Spheripol technologies offer intrinsic advantages over competitive technologies. In addition, the Spherizone technology allows us to push co-monomer content (ethylene, butene) allowing us to extend the envelope of product properties beyond standard Spheripol products. While customers are familiar with homopolymer, ethylene random copolymer, hetereophasic copolymer and to a lesser degree butene randoms and terpolymers, there are other structures that are possible with Spherizone that have only begun to be utilized, including homo-raco. dual raco and products with very broad molecular weight distribution. We hope to further leverage this exciting capability in the future. Then most important of all, the small scale of our investment combined with the JV partnership with LyondellBasell allows us to invest in the introduction of hexene as a new, novel co-monomer which is commonly used in PE, but to date has only been possible on one other PP plant in the world.

Q2. The new Spherizone plant will be the most advanced unit in the world using LyondellBasell’s Spherizone production technology. What kind of new and expanded PP capabilities can customers expect from this state-of-the-art plant?

Khun Martyn: Our PP Line 4 will have several unique capabilities versus existing plants, in particular the capability to produce products modified with C6. In pressurized water pipes, C6 provides better pressure resistance (PPR 125), allowing even further downgauging of the polymer and improving cost-effectiveness and longevity. In functional films, C6 will not only allow us to improve the balance of sealing temperature, seal strength and melt temperature for better machine productivity, but also improve performance in the metallization processes. Most exciting, C6 modified products for automotive use will offer better CLTE/creep resistance, important for low gap applications. In addition to C6, the line is designed to minimize the operating rate penalties associated with products with either low melt flow or high co-monomer contents, including better organoleptic properties, and to allow the incorporation of side streams such as elastomers or other polymers, again with the intention to expand the boundaries of the traditional PP property envelope.

Q3. Which PP markets and products applications should expect to see the most benefit from the technological edge delivered from specialty grades manufactured with this latest Spherizone technology?

Khun Martyn: Our objective with PP Line 4 is to follow the HMC Mission Statement – “to push the boundaries of PP application”, building on our three core competencies of market leading innovation; outstanding customer orientation; and world class operational excellence. We will use these capabilities to offer differentiated and specialty products to customers enabling them to lead their respective markets with superior end-use products – particularly pressure pipe, functional films, specific automotive applications and high end injection moulding.

Q4. The new Spherizone plant will boost HMC production capacity by 250 KT to a combined total for the four plants of 1,000 KT. Which growth markets and regions are predicted to utilize this additional capacity in the years to come?

Khun Martyn: HMC has been constrained by available capacity issues over the past few years and as a result we have had to limit our participation in the Thailand and other regional markets. PP Line 4 will re-establish HMC as the largest producer in SE Asia and the 3rd largest production site in Asia including China and India. We will utilize PP Line 4 to produce some of the more challenging products currently made on our other lines, thereby opening up capacity to better support the businesses of our loyal long term customers, and to deliver products to further position HMC Polymers as the PP supplier of choice and A Most Admired Company.

Q5. What 4 words would you use to describe HMC Polymers?

Khun Martyn: I would like that to be the 4 words which are our vision, to be “A Most Admired Company”. But as with all visions, that is aspirational, providing us with direction rather than destination. So instead I would choose 4 words that feature strongly in our directory of employee competencies – Creative, Passionate, Agile, Result Oriented.