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Kraton Polymers Cariflex Isoprene Rubber Production Receives Substantial Capacity Boost
Wednesday August 10, 2011, 8:30 am EDT

Multi-million Dollar Manufacturing Investment Supports Increased Product Demand

HOUSTON, Aug. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., a leading global producer of styrenic block copolymers or "SBCs," is pleased to announce the completion of its multi-million dollar capital investment projects to support sales growth in Cariflex™ isoprene rubber, a pure, high performance alternative to natural rubber.

Kraton Polymers successfully converted a plant at its manufacturing site in Belpre, Ohio for new solid isoprene rubber (IR) capacity. This production capability replaces the capacity from the Pernis, Netherlands facility that was closed in 2009. Kraton Polymers also completed an IR latex expansion at its plant in Brazil, which increased production by 30%. Additionally, the company anticipates a new capacity addition at its Japan facility in about two years. "These combined investments represent a very substantial capacity capability which will support the needs of our existing customers as well as our expansion into new markets for this material," said Kevin M. Fogarty, President & CEO, Kraton Polymers. "With this significant increase in capacity and an unmatched global service network, our customers can be assured of secure supplies anywhere in the world," he concluded.

Kraton Polymers' investment in Cariflex isoprene rubber production capabilities is the company's response to the medical industry's requirement for alternative technology that eliminates the need for products made from NR, including surgical gloves, catheters, IV and medical stopper bottles, as well as medical components and consumer products. "The medical industry has a strong interest in reducing patient and medical staff allergy risks that are often associated with NR latex products," said Richard Brennan, Vice President, Cariflex™ Polyisoprene Products. "Cariflex polyisoprene rubber is ideal for the manufacture of thin-walled products requiring strength and elasticity and can also be used in electronics and specialty coatings as well as food contact applications," he concluded.

Drawbacks of NR, including odor, and adverse allergic (Type 1) reactions, led to the development of synthetic alternatives to NR such as Cariflex polyisoprene products. In many respects, Cariflex polyisoprene rubber is superior to both NR, and other synthetics produced using titanium/aluminum catalysts. Commonly known as Ziegler-Natta, catalysts of this type leave higher levels of metal residue in the rubber, resulting in yellowish color and reduced stability that must be addressed by adding substantial levels of antioxidants. Ziegler-Natta catalysts also produce a significant amount of "gel" particles that can have an adverse effect on product quality.

Cariflex polyisoprene rubber is the ideal alternative to natural rubber for applications that demand extreme purity, exceptional protection and consistently high quality. Additional features include sterilization resistance, hypoallergenic properties, extraordinary comfort, and natural feel. Kraton Polymers is the only company in the world using an anionic solution polymerization process to produce this type of synthetic rubber. To further enhance quality and ensure its stability, the latex is pasteurized prior to shipment. Cariflex polyisoprene rubber is available as a solid rubber or latex and offers a clean, high-performance alternative unmatched by natural rubber or available synthetics.

About Kraton Polymers

Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., through its operating subsidiary Kraton Polymers LLC and its subsidiaries, is a leading global producer of engineered polymers and, we believe, the world's largest producer of styrenic block copolymers ("SBCs"), a family of products whose chemistry was pioneered by us almost fifty years ago. SBCs are highly-engineered thermoplastic elastomers, which enhance the performance of numerous products by delivering a variety of attributes, including greater flexibility, resilience, strength, durability and processability. Our polymers are used in a wide range of applications, including adhesives, coatings, consumer and personal care products, sealants and lubricants, and medical, packaging, automotive, paving, roofing and footwear products. We currently offer approximately 800 products to more than 700 customers in over 60 countries worldwide, and are the only SBC producer with manufacturing and service capabilities on four continents. We manufacture products at five plants globally, including our flagship plant in Belpre, Ohio, as well as plants in Germany, France and Brazil, and a joint venture plant operated in Japan.

Kraton, the Kraton logo and design, Cariflex, Nexar and the "Giving Innovators their Edge" tagline are all trademarks of Kraton Polymers LLC.

Source: PRNewswire

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