Cognis Boosts Ester Capacity

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Cognis Deutschland GmbH announced yesterday a multi-phase project to expand its capacity to make synthetic esters at its factory in Cincinnati. The company uses the plant-based esters as base stocks in transmission and axle lubricants marketed primarily for heavy-duty trucks.

Cognis, which is headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany, did not disclose the cost or size of the project. Management did say it expects to complete the first phase during the first quarter of 2007.

The company described the first phase of the project as a debottlenecking of the factorys largest esterfier.

We intend to secure our place in the supply chain of the synthetic lubricants and agricultural markets, said Jeff Kubiak, Ester Plant Manager. By optimizing the esterification process we decrease cycle time and increase efficiency, which increases our competitiveness. In addition, the project will include the retirement and removal of older equipment to allow for future expansion.

A spokeswoman said the company has not yet set a timetable for subsequent phases of the project.

Cognis is a global supplier of specialty chemicals derived from plant oils and sold to industries such as lubricants, food, cosmetics and detergents. Part of the Cincinnati facilities are occupied by Cognis Oleochemicals, which processes crops and animal fats into oleochemicals, some of which are used by Cognis as raw materials for its specialty chemicals. The oleochemicals business is a 50-50 joint venture between Cognis and Golden Hope Plantations Berhard, of Malaysia.

The ester expansion is the second capital investment for Cincinnati that Cognis has announced in the past month. In late April the company said it will spend $20 million to install a new fleet of boilers to power the plant.

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