Back in the day, when the main market for polyolefin elastomers (POEs) was impact modification of polypropylene automotive compounds, there was talk of a new plant in North America. Now, as solar module encapsulation sheet emerges as the key growth application, Mitsui Chemicals has decided to go full throttle on a major capacity expansion in Singapore, adding 120,000 tonnes/year of Tafmer production capability at a site where it already boasts capacity of 225,000 tonnes/year. The new capacity is scheduled to be up and running by March 2025 (by the end of fiscal year 2024).
This is the second announcement in a matter of days for a POE expansion after joint venture Sabic SK Nexlene announced a 60,000-tonnes/year expansion in South Korea.
These are heady times for the POE market. New Chinese players are poised to enter the POE market imminently, while ExxonMobil Chemical’s 400,000-tonnes/year Vistamaxx propylene-based POE expansion in North America will come onstream next year, freeing up capacity at its 300,000-tonnes/year Singapore site to potentially manufacture ethylene-based Exact POE for the solar encapsulant sheet market.
The implications these developments and more are detailed in MLT Analytics’ 2022 report Global Ethylene-based POE/POP Report— A detailed market and technology overview (2019–2030).
Image: Mitsui Chemicals