Stimulus may boost resin demand from electric vehicles - Celanese

Author: Al Greenwood

2020/07/29

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Governments are adopting economic stimulus packages with sustainability components that could encourage sales of electric vehicles.

That, in turn, should increase demand for resins and other materials used in the vehicles, said Lori Ryerkerk, CEO of Celanese. She made her comments during an earnings conference call.

Such provisions are prevalent in Europe and Asia, she said.

Trends that increase demand for electric vehicles benefit Celanese's Engineered Materials segment. "The accessible market for us in electric vehicles is about 30% greater for Celanese products than it is in traditional vehicles," Ryerkerk said.

Electric vehicles have been a focus for Celanese for the last 18 months, going back to before the coronavirus, she said.

In general, Celanese sees a lot of opportunities in the market. Ryerkerk highlighted the company's Ecomid resins, which are made with recycled nylon 6,6 and flame-retardant nylons.

Recently, Celanese was involved with a new high-voltage connector for an electric vehicle that is made with flame-retardant nylon.

Other polymers can help electric vehicle producers make their vehicles lighter.

Another trend that could benefit Engineered Materials is the adoption of 5G, an area that Celanese identified before the pandemic.

Companies are looking for better signal integrity, which is a good application for liquid crystal polymers (LCP) and polyphenylene sulphide (PPs), Ryerkerk said.

The coronavirus has created some new opportunities as well.

There is growing interest in ensuring the reliability of supply chains and removing risk, Ryerkerk said. Customers are interested in plastics that can hold up against disinfectants and sterilisation.

The outlook for plastics used in medical and pharmaceutical devices is mixed.

Because of the coronavirus, elective surgeries have been deferred, the company said. The magnitude of the deferrals during the second quarter exceeded Celanese's expectations,  amounting to a hit worth $10m in the second quarter.

Because of the deferrals, inventories for the affected applications need to fall, Ryerkerk said. A recovery should take place in the fourth quarter, and at the beginning of 2021.

Celanese's Engineered Materials segment produces and compounds resins. These include ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), nylon compounds and formulations, long-fibre reinforced thermoplastics, polypropylene compounds (PP), and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE).

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