Strong demand from APAC leads to Ashland expansion

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

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Specialty chemicals firm Ashland has responded to strong demand for its Natrosol hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) in Asia-Pacific by expanding production facilities in Nanjing, China.

Fresh from acquiring chemicals manufacturer International Specialty Products this summer​, the US-based firm will also make capacity additions at its Zwijndrecht site in the Netherlands to tackle strong demand in Europe as well.

The new capacity of 7,000 metric tons being added will further reinforce Ashland's position in the market and will enable the company to continue supporting the growing needs of its customers, according to the company.

Important to produce locally

"Ashland is committed to having sufficient manufacturing capacity available to serve our customers,"​ said John Panichella, president, Ashland Specialty Ingredients.

"I am extremely pleased with the success of the Nanjing facility and particularly proud that we anticipated the needs of the market by building a world-class hydroxyethylcellulose plant in Asia to support our customers.”

Panichella explained that after a successful start-up of the facility in China, the company will now strive to help customers capitalize on future growth opportunities, by making the additions to the production facility.

Ashland has four dedicated HEC manufacturing facilities located in the US, the Netherlands and China that enable Ashland to respond to changing market requirements and increase the security of supply to its customers.

Steady growth expected

"This expansion also reinforces our commitment to offer locally produced, products backed with superior technical support,"​ said Dale MacDonald, vice president, Coating Additives, Ashland Specialty Ingredients.

"Over the next few years, Ashland expects steady growth in the field of cellulose ethers driven by the need for materials that have reduced impact to the environment and are from renewable resources."

In addition, Ashland is also increasing production of its Natrosol Plus HEC product line at its Parlin, New Jersey plant.

Natrosol HEC is a nonionic, water-soluble polymer that is made by reacting ethylene oxide with alkali-cellulose under rigidly controlled conditions. Purified HEC for personal care and cosmetic applications is typically sold at 95 percent minimum purity (dry basis).

Personal care products formulated with the polymer dispense rich and thick from the container, but spread easily on hair and skin, and are often used in items such as shampoos and shower gels.

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