DowDuPont to invest $100 million in Sabine River Works plant

DowDuPont is growing its business in Orange County. The merger of Dow and DuPont on Sept. 1, 2017, resulted in a combined market capitalization of approximately $130 billion, making DowDuPont the world’s largest chemical company, according to CNN. The DowDuPont merger was designed to split into three new, publicly traded companies in 2019 — an agriculture company (Corteva Agriscience), a material sciences company (DuPont) and a specialty products company (Dow).

“It allows all three to seek their growth potential,” said Troy Bearden, acting site director and responsible care leader for SRW, pointing out that the Orange site will be named a Dow site upon the split, supporting the Packaging & Specialty Plastics (P&SP) business of the new Materials Science division.

The company has plans to invest $100 million at its Sabine River Works (SRW) plant at 2735 Farm to Market Road 1006 in Orange through a series of investments over the next two years to expand manufacturing capacity and modernize the facilities.

The expansion, announced Wednesday, April 9, will incrementally increase production capacity to support global demand of the specialty materials manufactured at the site. The company currently services a large market in North America and exports to continents all over the globe including North America, Europe and South America.

“When we separate into three different entities … it allows each to focus on what it wants to focus on instead of balancing all three,” added Production Leader at SRW Jon Iles.

The SRW plant currently produces low-density polyethylene (LDPE), a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene.

“We have a number of different product lines … (that) go into a wide range of polymer applications,” said Iles, who also stated that end products include everything from food packaging and industrial applications to road modifications and automotive “under the hood” applications. “We have an ethylene cracker here on site, so we take ethane and produce ethylene. We take ethylene and react that with a number of different monomers to produce specialty plastics.”

Dow will continue to produce specialized polymers like the Surlyn, Nucrel and Fusabond lines.

Fusabond resins can be used as coupling agents between polymers — mainly polyolefins such as polyethylene and polypropylene — and fillers, in order to increase the filler acceptability of polymers. It can be used as a coupling agent for flame retardant fillers in custom wire and cable formulations. Nucrel is a family of ethylene-acid copolymer resins that provide outstanding, chemically-resistant bonds to metal and other materials. It can be extruded, coextruded, or laminated on equipment designed to process polyethylene. Surlyn provides a combination of properties that is unique among polymers. This makes it an ideal sealant resin to keep packaged meats, cheese, cereal, snacks, and other dry foods fresh and appealing, while increasing shelf life. One of the Surlyn grade polymers is actually used to make perfume bottle caps, Iles pointed out.

“This is another great example of the power of our historic merger and our ability to quickly respond to customers’ growing needs,” said Diego Donoso, business president for Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics, “We see tremendous potential to deliver more supply of these iconic specialty products to our customers in the food packaging and consumer goods markets.”

Part of the expansion is adding incremental capacity, Iles said, but another large part of it is increasing the capability of the site’s existing assets to produce a wide range of products.

“There’s some debottlenecking as well as modifying the capability of the unit to produce more specialty products,” he said. Debottlenecking is the process of identifying specific areas and/or equipment in a facility that limit the flow of product (otherwise known as bottlenecks) and optimizing them so that overall capacity in the plant can be increased.

The expansion will be a much-needed boost for the economy of Orange County, said Jessica Hill, executive director of the Orange County Economic Development Corporation.

“Orange County is fortunate to have a community partner in DowDupont,” Hill said. “Support from industry leaders and local business is the foundation for economic growth in our community. We are grateful for the commitment DowDupont has made to improve and expand their operations. Communities succeed when the vision of growth is shared across industry and community sectors. We are committed to sharing that vision with DowDupont, and look forward to other opportunities to strengthen our relationship with them.”

The company is a big supporter of United Way of Orange County, said Troy Bearden, acting site director and responsible care leader for DowDupont.

“Historically, DuPont has been our largest campaign supporter,” said Maureen McAllister, president and CEO of The United Way of Orange County. “They not only contribute a significant amount financially, but they also engage in our organization by having some of their employees serve on our Board. We have heard great things about Dow, and we look forward to the new possibilities. We appreciate the companies who invest in our community, and it makes Orange County a better place for everyone.”

The added capacity is expected to come online in several phases starting in 2020. Additionally, the company is looking ahead, evaluating future plans to invest in the business across the globe to further support market growth.

“For the community, it’s really a sign that the Sabine River Works is part of Dow’s future. This investment is good for the site and the community long-term,” Iles added.

Photo courtesy of DowDuPont - Arial photo of DowDuPont’s Sabine River Works (SRW) plant at 2735 Farm to Market Road 1006 in Orange. The company is investing $100 million at the site to expand manufacturing capacity and modernize facilities.