ExxonMobil Chemical Shanghai Technology Center (STC), China


ExxonMobil Chemical inaugurated a new technology centre in Shanghai, China in March 2011.

The facility is named The ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Research and Development Centre.

Also known as the Shanghai Technology Centre (STC), it is the third largest facility in ExxonMobil Chemical's global technology network, the other two being the European Technology Centre at Machelen and another in the US.

China was the preferred location for the facility due to the increasing demand for petrochemicals in the country. The STC will provide several technical services and facilitate development of plasticisers and polyethylene-based compounds. It will also facilitate development and testing of new applications. Polymer products produced at the facility will be distributed worldwide.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the STC was held on 8 May 2009. The construction took two years for completion and involved an investment of $90m (€64m). The technology centre initially employs about 200 people. The workforce will be increased in future.

Ownership

ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Research and Development Company is the builder and operator of the STC. It is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil (China) Investment (EMCH), a wholly-owned company of ExxonMobil Corporation.

ExxonMobil STC design

The ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Research and Development Centre is located in the Zizhu Science-Based Industrial Park in Shanghai. The industrial and office building is built in an area of 27,000m². It houses commercial-scale product processing equipment, state-of-the-art analytical and testing laboratories, and product demonstration facilities. The polymer processing equipment includes compounding, nonwovens, injection moulding, plasticised PVC, packaging, and blown and cast film extrusion.

"ExxonMobil expects to increase its capabilities and sales of premium products."

The technology centre consists of a laboratory building, a two-storey central plant, twin single-storey process halls and four-storey office building. It is designed with many sustainable features to support LEED certification. The laboratory blocks are designed to the standards of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International. The main process hall of the STC lab has a cast film line, blown film lines, hot press, two-roll mill, twin-screw compounder, injection moulding machine, packaging conversion equipment, cast film line, film surface analyser, shrink tunnel and ancillary equipment for blending, grinding and drying.

The physical testing lab carries out analysis and tests on the environmental, optical, mechanical, barrier, sealing and shrink properties as well as on the quality of finished products. The analytical lab is used for product analysis such as identification of chemical composition, characterisation of the product, quality testing and resolution of technical problems. The laboratories will help in improving the performance of the products.

The small-scale production plants will support the development of new products, improvement of applications and demonstration of the production process.

Sustainability

The sustainable features incorporated in the R&D complex include heat recovery systems, air handling and high-performance chillers, reduced lighting power density, optimal use of natural light and fresh air, a high-performance external glazing system and water conservation fixtures. The construction used locally produced materials and the wastes were recycled.

"The STC will be used to develop various polymer products of ExxonMobil Chemical."

Process technology

The analytical and testing equipment of the laboratories are equipped with humidity and temperature. The STC will also provide on-site training to the customers and help them to improve product performance and reliability, and reduce the use of raw materials and processing costs. The ExxonMobil scientists across the globe work in collaboration to reduce time-to-market.

The STC will be used to develop various polymer products of ExxonMobil Chemical. They include plasticisers for polyvinyl chloride industry, bi-oriented polypropylene film, polypropylene, polyethylene, elastomers and polypropylene-based compounds.

The scientists at Shanghai will also support the customers in the development of new applications on the existing portfolio of the premium products and next generation products of the company.

The films produced with the applications development support are expected to be cleaner for long time periods, and have improved optical clarity and puncture resistance. The raw material consumption is also considered to be less, thereby reducing the production cost.

Market growth

Asia is expected to account for about 60% of the global petrochemicals growth over the next 10 years. ExxonMobil expects to increase its capabilities and sales of premium products with the new technology centre in order to benefit from the growth opportunity.