Ube Industries, Ltd. (President: Kazumasa Tsunemi) is moving toward full-scale sales of PCD (polycarbonate diol) and oxetane as part of its program of business expansion in fine chemicals. In addition, the Company has decided to expand by around 30% its existing production capacity for DMC (dimethyl carbonate), which is a main material associated with PCD.
PCD, which is a raw material for polyurethane resin, is widely used in high-performance synthetic leather, mainly for automobiles and high-quality furniture, and waterborne coatings. Polyurethane manufactured from PCD raw materials made by Ube Industries have a wide range of outstanding features, including weatherability (the ability to withstand weathering when left outdoors) and hydrolysis resistance. Ube Industries' DMC, which is the main raw material, and 1.6 hexane diol have strengths unmatched by competitors. By taking advantage of these strengths, PCD sales volume has been growing at an annual rate of 10%. Demand is expected to increase further in the future due to the trend toward the increasing use of waterborne paints in step with the growing preferences of users for higher quality and stricter environmental regulations. The Company is planning to construct a new PCD production facility with an annual capacity of 3,000 tons in Spain to satisfy robust demand in Europe.
Oxetane, which is the general term for four-member ring etherates, is heavily used in paints, adhesives, and a wide range of coating agents. Besides being more flexible and having better adhesive properties than epoxy, it is drawing a great deal of attention as an environment-friendly material. Carboxylic acid curing, which is widely used in the field of epoxy resin, has been applied to products using oxetane resin. At present, such products are appearing, one after another. Consequently, demand for oxetane is becoming quite active.
The Company is taking the world lead in commercializing the oxetane business, centered on what is known as EHO (a 3-ethyl 3-hydroxy carbinyl oxetane) that is based on DMC and TMP (tri-methylol propane) as its main materials. We are looking into the possibility of constructing a commercial plant with an annual capacity of several thousand tons in order to satisfy market needs in the future.
Amidst the growing current of Green Procurement (environment-friendly procurement), the Company plans to cultivate PCD and oxetane into a core of DMC-based C1 chemical (chemicals with lower significant risk) products, by taking advantage of its competitive superiority as the only domestic manufacturer of highly safe DMC, as an alternative to phosgene products.