07 July 1997 00:00 [Source: ICB]
As well as strong market presence through its Styron brand name, Dow also has a firm technology position in PS. Bader confirms that Dow is willing to license this either outright or through an equity stake with a joint venture partner, as it has on a number of occasions.
Besides ongoing enhancements of the basic PS technology, two novel technologies are under development. Closet to commercialisation is Questra, a series of metallocene-produced syndiotactic polymers using styrenic and other substituted aromatic monomers.
Development has been carried out with Japan's Idemitsu Petrochemical, but Dow is set to produce and market the materials, building a plant either at Freeport, Texas. or BSL in Germany.
Dow claims the Questra engineering polymers have the highest melting point of any single-monomer polymerisation product. They will be market as engineering polymers separately from Dow's Styron PS materials, says Bader.
Also under development at Dow's Midland R&D centre is the PS-derived polycyclohexylethylene (PCHEA). Bader stresses that the material is in the early stages of development, but the signs are encouraging. PCHE is made by hydrogenating PS, a process in which Dow has made a breakthrough in the catalyst used.
Bader expects a decision to press ahead with the development to be made next November, with the development coming to fruition in 1999. There are still some internal hurdles to clear though, she says.
Dow sees potential for PCHE in the compact disc market, as it ha low birefringence, good optical clarity and high impact resistance. A few customers have seen the material but Dow has not released details of it to date.
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