SK Chemicals is accelerating expansion in the capacity of PETG, a key chemical compound used to make sterile, single use disposable containers for cosmetics and disinfectants, amid spike in demand for hand sanitizers due to COVID-19 pandemic.
PETG or polyethylene terephthalate glycol modified is a strong and versatile material with great thermal resistance. It is composed of TPA, EG and CHDM by condensation polymerization.
The PETG market has grown at an annual rate of 10 percent, Due to the complexities in formulating CHDM or cyclohexane dimethanol, the production is monopolized by U.S. Eastman Chemical and SK Chemicals.
SK Chemicals began facility expansion work for PETG late last year in a site adjacent to its ‘Sky Green’ plant in Namgu located in the southern city of Ulsan. Construction is scheduled for completion next year with a set of 30-meter towering reactors installed to treat CHDM and other chemicals to produce PETG.
The new facility will enter full operation upon completion to meet growing demands for PETG, said Yoo Ho-sup, head of SK Chemicals’ advanced material production. SK Chemicals is a latecomer in the PETG market, but it has steadily increased its presence in Northeast Asian thanks to excellent product quality. The capex decision was made based on rapid growth of China’s cosmetics market last year.
The face protector made of ordinary plastic worn by medical personnel can be broken or damaged when it comes into contact with alcohol sanitizers, but a PETG product has no problem.
PETG`s excellent physical and chemical properties have led to an explosive increase in demand especially amid the pandemic. Exports to the US and European Union markets have more than doubled since March, the company said.
By Won Ho-sup and Minu Kim
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