Akzo Plans Phosphate Esters Expansion

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Despite what it described as a lull in demand, Akzo Nobel announced that it will expand its phosphate ester lubricant additive plant in Gallipolis Ferry, W.Va.

Akzo Nobel officials said capacity at the plant will increase by 50 percent, although they did not disclose the capacity or say how much the project will cost. They also linked the expansion to a decision by Great Lakes Chemical to close its phosphate ester plant in Nitro, W.Va., late last year.

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Akzo Nobel officials said existing capacity meets market demand at the moment, but they expect demand to increase when the economy improves.

This market has been focused on heavy industry, especially steel and automotive manufacturing, which of course have been down in the past year, said Mark Buczek, worldwide marketing manager of fluids and lubricants. But we expect those industries to pick up again when the economy turns around. Aviation also accounts for a big part of the demand for phosphate esters. That sector, too, is down since last fall, but it will also come back.

Great Lakes closed its Nitro plant in order to consolidate production at its Manchester, U.K., plant, which was de-bottlenecked at the same time. Great Lakes officials contended that non-aviation demand for phosphate ester lubricants additives has not declined and stated that they do not expect to lose market share as a result of the companys consolidation.

The lubricants industry uses phosphate esters as antiwear additives and as fire-resistant fluids in a variety of applications, from hydraulic and transmission fluids to compressor oils and aircraft lubricants. Phosphate esters are ashless and serve as an alternative to metal-containing additives.

Akzo Nobel is based in Arnhem, Netherlands. Its Phosphorous Chemicals unit in the United States is based in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Great Lakes is headquartered in Indianapolis.