Collaboration and CONSISTA® Catalyst
Esenttia is Colombia’s leading polypropylene producer, making 480,000 tons per year.
To grow, Esenttia relies on operational excellence and early implementation of new technologies and catalysts. Since its inception in 1989, Esenttia has licensed W. R. Grace & Co.’s UNIPOL® polypropylene (PP) process technology, an all-gas-phase polymerization method that uses a fluidized bed reactor. By maintaining a close relationship with its licensor (originally Union Carbide), Esenttia is kept abreast of new opportunities to reduce costs and provide its customers with the latest grades of PP.
“No matter the size of the company, buying a technology license offers many advantages,” says David Hartill, vice president of licensing and global services at Grace. The proven technology comes with a performance warranty, so the risk is minimized. “Grace offers a very good ‘improvement program,’” he adds, which companies like Esenttia have used effectively to complement their R&D efforts and solve technical issues.
Positive Environmental Impacts and Superior Resins
The latest innovation Esenttia has adopted is Grace’s CONSISTA® catalyst platform. CONSISTA® catalyst is a nonphthalate-based Ziegler-Natta catalyst. Over the past few decades, phthalates have been associated with adverse health effects, and some compounds are regulated. Consequently, there has been a move away from earlier Ziegler-Natta catalysts that contained phthalates.
CONSISTA® catalysts are also two to three times as productive as phthalate-based catalysts, which translates to cleaner polymers containing 50% less catalyst residue. Production also becomes less resource-intensive, as the CONSISTA® catalyst process requires only about half the amount of stabilizing and processing additives required with phthalate-based catalysts.
Quickly Bringing New Resins to Market
Moving to CONSISTA® catalyst required Grace and Esenttia to collaborate closely. Grace offered on-site support backed by constant communication with additional experts working remotely. It helped establish modifications for process control parameters, conditions for obtaining specific resin grades, conditions for extrusion, and additive packages. Grace also trained Esenttia employees on maximizing settle bulk density, which is crucial for enabling high production rates in UNIPOL® PP plants.
As a result, Esenttia commercialized about 20 grades of resin made with CONSISTA®catalyst in less than 2 years.
“The collaboration with Grace has been excellent for Esenttia,” as Grace is very customer-focused, says Fernando Velez, Esenttia’s vice president of manufacturing and technology. “You sit with technical personnel from Grace and establish priorities for your company that also have some interest for the Grace technical community,” he adds. “After that is agreed, you start the program and you see results very fast.”
At Grace, Hartill says, “we work hard at being indispensable to our customers.”
The collaboration with Grace has been excellent for Esenttia. It is very customer-focused.
Vice President of manufacturing and technology at Esenttia