DuPont's Titanium Dioxide Production Facility, Altamira, Mexico
DuPont is currently involved in construction activities to add another new train of titanium dioxide (TiO2) production facility at its Altamira site in Mexico. The company is also simultaneously involved in the expansion and upgrade works for its five existing titanium dioxide plants.
The announcement for the construction of the new plant and the upgrade of the existing plants was made in May 2011. The contract for the construction of the plant was awarded in May 2013. The new plant and the expansion works will increase the TiO2 production capacity of Dupont by a further 350,000 metric tonnes per year.
Texas-based engineering firm ICA Flour, a joint venture of Flour and Empresas, is carrying out the construction, construction management and material management services for the production facility. The contract awarded to the company to carry out these activities is valued at $130m.
The plant will have a production capacity of 200,000 metric tonnes per year and is scheduled to come online in 2014. It is being constructed with an investment of $500m. The expansion works at the five existing facilities will, on the other hand, add 150,000 metric tonnes per year.
DuPont's Altamira site
The Altamira site of DuPont is located in the southern part of Tamaulipas in Mexico. The production of titanium dioxide at the site began in 1960. DuPont took complete ownership of the site in 1986. The site currently employs about 350 people.
Process technology at the titanium dioxide facility
The company will produce titanium dioxide at the new plant using the chloride manufacturing process.
The technology which was commercialised by DuPont in 1948 involves the use of high temperature and anhydrous vapour-phase reactions. The process initially involves the reaction of the feedstock titanium ore with chlorine gas at a lower temperature to obtain titanium tetrachloride. Metallic chloride impurities are removed in the process. Highly purified titanium tetrachloride is then oxidised at high temperature to produce intermediate titanium dioxide.
The product released from this process is primarily a group of pigmentary size titanium dioxide crystals, which are finally separated using methods such as precipitation using hydrous oxides of silicon, aluminium, or zinc or even application of organic additives, depending on the specific requirements.
The chloride manufacturing process yields a superior pigment generating fewer wastes during production compared to the conventional sulphate manufacturing process. The process also allows for rapid and tight particle size control.
Qualities and versatility of titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide is a white pigment which is used in paints, coatings, paper, plastics, laminates and specialty applications.
The company markets its titanium dioxide products under the brand name Ti-Pure.
Ti-Pure provides opacity, colour, ultraviolet resistance, as well as aesthetic benefits to products.
It is manufactured both in rutile and anatase structures, with the former being more common as it absorbs and scatters more light providing opacity, stability and durability.
The pigment enhances the colour capabilities of paint, plastics and paper.
Marketing commentary for DuPont
DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, was founded in 1802. The company operates in more than 90 countries and employs about 70,000 people. It is the largest manufacturer of titanium dioxide in the world.
DuPont currently produces titanium dioxide from its production sites at DeLisle in Mississippi, New Johnsonville in Tennessee, Edge Moor in Delaware, Altamira in Mexico, Kuan Yin in Taiwan, and Starke in Florida. All the titanium dioxide production sites of the company implement the chloride manufacturing process.
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