Emerald Kalama Chemical, a business unit of Emerald Performance Materials, celebrated its 50th year of operation with the grand opening of its new 6,000-sq-ft technical center in Kalama, WA. The grand opening ceremony, which attracted nearly 150 customers, suppliers, federal, state and local government officials, employees, and other key stakeholders, included a luncheon program, formal ribbon cutting, and tour of the new facility. The new technical center is focused on applications and formulation support for Emerald’s customers worldwide, and technology development of K-FLEX® phthalate-free plasticizers and coalescents.

 Emerald Kalama Chemical began its toluene oxidation operation in 1962 under Dow Chemical. The Kalama operation grew, experienced changes in ownership and diversified its portfolio over the years. Manufacturing of the K-FLEX plasticizer products began in 1981.

According to Shamsi Gravel, K-FLEX Product Line Manager for the Americas, market demand drove the need for the new technical center, as customers are seeking more environmentally friendly materials that have low VOCs, biodegradability and more favorable product regulatory profiles than phthalate-based plasticizers and traditional high-VOC coalescents. “Over the last couple years, rulings regarding phthalates have fueled a significant increase in the number of customer development projects,” said Gravel. “The expanded laboratory facilities will enable us to deliver even greater value to our customers by switching to a more environmentally friendly alternative that also can bring many improved performance features to their products. We have even greater capabilities to further develop and expand our range of products, evaluate and optimize performance in targeted end-use applications.”

The center includes an array of instruments used to develop formulations and optimize product performance in a variety of key end-use applications, including latex adhesives, coatings, plastisols, caulks and sealants. Instruments available on-site include devices to measure glass transition, minimum film forming temperatures (MFFT), volatility, material mechanical properties and strength, QUV/accelerated aging performance, color, adhesion and rheology of liquids, organosols, and plastisols. Supporting equipment, such as mixing apparatus, mills, lab coaters and brabenders, enable the preparation of a variety of materials into formulated products. Such analysis is critical in determining very practical performance characteristics, to make sure materials can be processed under acceptable conditions and will stand up to the test of time as needed in the final end product.

 Edward T. Gotch, President of Emerald Kalama Chemical, said, “During these 50 years, we have evolved, changed and grown. We demonstrate that our operations, based in what are typically characterized as high-cost regions, can be competitive and highly successful by us having a clear vision, being open to change and having an organizational culture that embraces the relentless pursuit of continuous improvement, innovation and productivity.”

Gotch also recognized Sun Capital Partners for its continued investments to support the growth of the company since acquiring Emerald in 2006. “The investments made since 2006 have enabled us to pursue the exciting path we are now on to transform and grow our business,” he said.

Gravel introduced Lanny Cawley, Executive Director of the Port of Kalama, who added that global growth is a key imperative and that the company’s location on port and rail lines is important to serving its customers on a worldwide basis. The company utilizes the ports in the region both for incoming and outgoing ocean shipments. Cawley stressed that one of their key missions is to attract businesses to the region.

“Those who understand the importance of economic development know that businesses such as Emerald Kalama not only provide jobs, but also pay taxes that provide revenue to support schools, local government, fire and police departments, and other services,” said Cawley.  n

For information, visit www.emeraldmaterials.com.