Oleon Builds Factory in Houston

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Oleon Builds Factory in Houston
A closeup of rapeseed. Oleon's base oleochemicals division splits animal fats and vegetable oils into fatty acids and glycerins. Its derivatives business unit takes the core components and combines them with alcohols, before converting them into natural esters. © Braslavets Denys

Oleochemical producer Oleon started construction of a new esters plant in Baytown, Texas, a $50 million investment, the Belgium-based company announced on Monday. Its natural esters are used in lubricants, including in environmentally acceptable lubricants.

The production facility is scheduled to go into service at the end of 2023. It will supply customers in the lubes and oil and gas industries, Oleon Communications and Marketing Manager Liselot De Keyser told Lube Report.

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“We have a strong European base but felt a growing need for international expansion with an industrial footprint in the U.S.,” CEO Moussa Naciri said in a news release. “The world is changing, and now more than ever, companies have a role to play in the face of the climate emergency and the pressure it exerts on our planet’s natural resources. For this reason, we want to bring our natural chemistry to North America, closer to our customers.”

The company’s base oleochemicals division splits animal fats and vegetable oils into fatty acids and glycerins. Its derivatives business unit then takes the core components and combines them with alcohols, before converting them into natural esters.

“This new facility will product esters utilizing our newest technology, compliant with the highest industry standards and also provide blending services to support our growing oil and gas business,” Managing Director Jeroen Dirckx said in a news release. The company cited the current supply chain crisis and volatile markets as key factors driving the need for domestic production in the United States.

The Baytown facility will also house a new synthesis and application lab to support Oleon’s growth in industrial markets.

In addition to EALs, its esters are used in different ways — as base oils, co-base oils or additives — in applications such as automotive lubricants, food grade lubricants, gear oils, hydraulic fluids, greases, metalworking fluids.

Its fatty esters of methanol, propanol, butanol, octanol and others serve as lubricity improvers for steel, copper and aluminum rolling, and are also used in neat oils and in emulsions for cutting, grinding and drilling operations.

Headquartered in Ertvelde, Belgium, Oleon has six production sites, including in Belgium, Germany, France, the United States and Malaysia. The company is part of the Avril Group.

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