ExxonMobil Chemical today announced a major expansion of halobutyl manufacturing at its plant in Baytown, Texas. The U.S. facility will increase capacity to produce Exxon™ Bromobutyl rubber by 60 percent by modifying existing equipment and adding new equipment. The expansion is part of the company's commitment to satisfy strong demand and high growth in the global halobutyl rubber market and tire industry. Construction completion is anticipated during the second quarter of 2008.
"The company continues to invest in halobutyl manufacturing at the Baytown complex, with projects exceeding $400 million since 2000," said Art Sullivan, vice president of ExxonMobil Chemical's Butyl Polymers Global Business. "This further demonstrates our continued global supply commitment to customers in the tire industry, supported by 70 years of experience in butyl rubber research and development, services and product know-how."
The ability of halobutyl to be vulcanized with other rubbers, providing unique properties such as low air permeability, high heat resistance, excellent flex cracking resistance, and processability, makes it valuable in tire inner liner applications. The superior moisture vapor barrier properties of halobutyl inner liners help prevent the rusting of steel cords in the belts and carcass of passenger and truck tires. Better inflation pressure retention (IPR) afforded by halobutyl rubber has been demonstrated to improve the durability of aged tires.
ExxonMobil Chemical is a major supplier of halobutyl rubber to the global tire industry and has expanded its capacity to produce this polymer by 80 percent in the past decade.
In 2002, the company completed an expansion at Baytown that quadrupled its halobutyl capacity.
Japan Butyl Co. Ltd., an ExxonMobil Chemical joint venture, recently completed an expansion that increased its halobutyl production capacity to 70,000 tons a year to meet growing demand in Asia Pacific.
In another expansion at the Baytown butyl plant, the company is doubling its capability to produce proprietary Exxpro™ specialty elastomer, used for new high air barrier technologies for tire inner liners. Announced in 2005, the project is targeted for completion by year end.