KH Neochem Co. will build a 7.5 billion (U.S. $67 million)facility in western Japan to manufacture additives for refrigeration lubricants.
The Japanese petrochemical producer announced last week that it expects to begin construction on the plant in Yokkaichi city, Mie prefecture, in May, and to begin production in January 2020.
The company claimed last year to be Japans sole manufacturer of isononanoic acid, which it produces along with 2-ethylhexanoic acid, alcohols and esters from its proprietary oxo reactions. Those products can be used to formulate refrigeration compressor lubricants, which help circulate the refrigerant in equipment such as air conditioners.
Demand for the companys raw materials [used in] refrigeration lubricants has been growing, reflecting the expanding air conditioning market in China and other emerging countries and a shift to refrigerants that focus on the prevention of any damage to the ozone layer and global warming, the company said in a Dec. 28 press release. Demand for eco-friendly refrigeration lubricants is expected to grow further, which will be associated with increasingly stringent international environmental regulations.
The company has said previously that demand is mounting for oils that are compatible with the type of refrigeration compressors that are increasingly being favored as more environmentally safe alternatives to chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed KH Neochem Co. said sales of lubricant additives used in air conditioners helped increase sales in its performance materials segment by 26 percent over the prior year, to 28 billion (U.S. $249 million).