Kureha Corporation to Launch New Polyglycolic Acid (PGA) Business in West Virginia

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 General News
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TOKYO, Dec. 18 Kureha Corporation today announced it willinvest more than $100 million in a new, wholly-owned subsidiary to build aplant for the production and sale of the high performance polymer,polyglycolic acid (PGA). The production facility will be located on the DuPontsite in Belle, W.Va.

According to Dr. Takao Iwasaki, president and chief executive officer ofKureha Corporation, construction of the plant is scheduled to start in early2008, with polymer production to begin in early 2010. The first phase of thisconstruction will be a semi-works facility that will create approximately 50new jobs and result in a turnover of greater than $100 million.

Kureha Corporation is a leading global supplier of specialty chemicals andplastics, targeting diverse markets such as consumer packaging, householdproducts, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and other industrial applications. Thecompany continues to focus on growth and diversification by leveraging itscommitment to research and development and the Kureha mission of the pursuitof excellence.

"The establishment of this PGA business is another milestone in Kureha'svision of becoming a specialty products company, radically redefining the waywe approach our markets and customers," said Iwasaki. "With the development ofthis breakthrough technology and the strong intellectual property surroundingour work, PGA will become a centerpiece in the company's strategy of focusingon value-added, highly differentiated products, setting us on a path of stronggrowth and profitability."

PGA is a polyester resin, which offers high gas barrier to both CO2 andO2, controllable hydrolysis and excellent mechanical strength. This uniquecombination of properties makes PGA ideally suited for high performancepackaging and industrial applications. Today, the targeted application for PGAis multilayer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for carbonated softdrinks and beer. Since PGA offers a gas barrier 100 times higher than that ofPET, it is possible to reduce the amount of PET used in these bottles by morethan 20 percent, while maintaining the equivalent barrier against CO2 loss.This bottle redesign has the potential of yielding cost reduction as well assource reduction opportunities in the marketplace.

Perhaps most importantly, PGA's unique hydrolytic properties make ithighly compatible with widely practiced industrial PET recycling processes,ensuring the material does not interfere with the purity and quality ofrecycled PET. In another packaging application, PGA multi-layer designs havebeen shown to enhance the gas and moisture barrier of bio-based polymers suchas polylactic acid (PLA). Through expanded use in biodegradable applications,PGA will further contribute to environmental conservation.

In addition, Kureha is working with several development partners tocommercialize industrial applications that utilize the easily controllablehydrolysis rate and excellent mechanical strength of PGA.

"PGA definitely fits in the sweet spot of Kureha's focus on the triplebottom line: economic, environmental and social responsibility," said Dr.Iwasaki. "Our aim is to maximize value while remaining committed toenvironmental and compliance issues, and in doing so, contribute to the localcommunity as a responsible corporate citizen. When considering the potentialunique and diverse opportunities for PGA, we estimate the business couldeventually achieve a turnover in excess of $1 billion."

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said Kureha could not have selected abetter site than the DuPont Belle plant. "I am excited that Kureha hasselected West Virginia for its newest manufacturing location, and proud thatsuch a revolutionary product will be made in the Mountain State," Manchinsaid. "This new partnership of Kureha Corp., DuPont and West Virginia provesthat we can compete in the global chemical manufacturing

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