DuPont Monomer and Resin Plant, United States of America


DuPont's monomer manufacturing facility in Louisville is situated near the Ohio River in Kentucky. The facility manufactures DuPont's trademarked vinyl fluoride, Freon, a refrigerant.

Construction of the plant began in 1941 and the plant became operational in September 1942. The plant houses a 300,000ft² facility and is spread across an area of 251 acres. It employs 172 people, aside from the 50-100 contractors.

In August 2009, DuPont announced an investment of $120m for a multiphase production expansion of its plants in Louisville and Fayetteville, in the state of North Carolina and in its Circleville site in Ohio.

The investment will increase DuPont's production capability of monomer and resin by 50%. Monomer and resin are two important components of the company's Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) product line.

In January 2010, DuPont announced an investment of $175m for the final phase of expansion, bringing the total investment to $295m. The final phase includes construction of new Tedlar line at Circleville site.

Plant history

"DuPont's monomer manufacturing facility in Louisville is situated near the Ohio River in Kentucky."

During World War II, the Federal Government acquired the Louisville plant from DuPont as the Neoprene synthetic rubber manufactured by the plant was an important war material.

In 1948, DuPont purchased the plant back from the government. The plant has been under the sole ownership of the company since January 1949.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the plant was modernised and expanded to produce different products. In 1955, the plant commenced manufacturing of Freon-22 refrigerant and aerosol propellant.

These products were later phased out to reduce production of chlorofluorocarbon. In 1992, the plant started production of non-CFC substitutes, such as Suva refrigerants and Dymel propellants.

In 1998, DuPont purchased Protein Technologies International and started producing protein isolates at the plant. Protein isolates or soy protein are used for industrial applications such as paper and paperboard coatings.

Expansion

DuPont's expansion plan, announced in August 2009, includes an investment of $45m in the Louisville plant. About 78,000ft² was added to the Louisville plant.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority sanctioned $500,000 in tax incentives for a duration of ten years to DuPont in August 2008 for expanding the Louisville plant. It also approved $1m in state sales tax refunds.

The expansion plan also includes an investment of $55m directed towards the Fayetteville resin plant. DuPont also invested $20m to expand a plant at the Circleville site.

DuPont obtained a $50,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund for expanding the Fayetteville facility. The One North Carolina Fund is a special fund set up by the Department of Commerce to provide assistance for expansion plans of businesses in North Carolina.

DuPont had earlier expanded the Fayetteville plant in 2006 with an investment of $50m. This was completed in 2007. The plant manufactures a variety of films, fibres and speciality chemicals such as Nafion, SentryGlas, Tedlar and Teflon. The plant is spread across an area of 2,150 acres and employs 500 people.

The Louisville and Fayetteville plants were chosen as they already have the necessary infrastructure. The expansion is expected to double DuPont's production capacity of Tedlar films. The first phase of expansion was completed in 2010. The new Tedlar line at DuPont's Circleville site commenced production in late 2011.

Technology

DuPont's Tedlar products are part of the company's fluoropolymer family. The Tedlar films are made of polyvinyl fluoride and are used in various applications, such as aerospace and solar cells.

"DuPont's multiphase expansion is the result of rapid growth of the photovoltaic solar industry."

The company produces two types of Tedlar products, the PV2000 Series and PV2100 Series films.

The Tedlar backsheet films are used in photovoltaic modules in particular because of their durable and weatherable nature. The durability also reduces cost of producing solar electricity.

The Tedlar backsheet is made of laminated film composite, which has a trilayer structure made of Tedlar / Polyester / Tedlar, otherwise known as TPT.

The structure enables the fluoropolymer to protect both sides of the polyster from photo-degradation.

Market growth

DuPont's multiphase expansion is the result of rapid growth of the photovoltaic solar industry. The company expects a 30% increase in the market for Tedlar films due to the increase in production and installation of photovoltaic solar panels across the world. The company also estimates overall sales of its products for the photovoltaic industry to exceed $2bn by 2014.