A global maker of fine and specialty chemicals has invested in infrastructure and equipment upgrades that will allow it to double its alkane production.
Vertellus, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, said last week that it made the investment at its Zeeland hydrogenation plant.
The company said it has invested in "leading-edge" production equipment and infrastructure improvements that boost its alkane production capacity 100 percent above prior levels.
The company would not share the specific value of its investment.
The company will not be doing any hiring as a result of the upgrades. It employs about 70 workers at its Zeeland location.
Alkanes are organic compounds that consist entirely of single-bonded carbon and hydrogen atoms. They provide energy, in the form of latent heat.
Vertellus expects alkanes to be one of several chemistries supplying a phase-change material, or PCM, market, which it said is anticipated to exceed $100 million by 2020.
Phase-change materials fluctuate between solids, liquids and vapors, depending on temperature.
Alkanes "behave in a manner similar to a rechargeable thermal battery, continuously absorbing and releasing heat over thousands of cycles," according to Vertellus.
Manufacturers of foam mattresses, ski apparel and construction materials value alkanes for their ability to regulate thermal properties.
Chrissy Walling, a spokesperson for Vertellus, said the company’s end users include bedding, textiles and construction manufacturers.
Walling said the infrastructure and equipment upgrades will allow the company to increase production of its current alkanes, as well as produce new ones.
“We are looking to broaden the product offering,” she said.
The company will now operate with a “slightly larger footprint, while increasing efficiency.”
Global chemical strategy
Vertellus CEO Rich Preziotti said the company is investing in new technologies that expand its product offerings and leverage production resources.
“As an emerging market for PCMs, including alkanes and proprietary chemistries, continues to grow, Vertellus’ product pipeline and plant locations are well positioned to cost-effectively meet the needs of customers around the globe,” Preziotti said.
The capacity expansion in Zeeland follows Vertellus’ recent acquisition of Pentagon Chemicals in the U.K. and Dow Chemical's sodium borohydride business.
“As we integrate new assets, we continue to identify opportunities for our existing facilities to meet demand for specialized chemistries, including alkanes,” Preziotti said.
Vertellus Global Product Manager Ami El Agizy said the company’s “value proposition in the alkane market is based on providing the greatest amount of energy (latent heat) per gram delivered per cost of PCM material.”
“The Zeeland facility’s expanded production capacity positions Vertellus to serve as a high volume, low-cost supplier of alkanes to customers in several industries,” El Agizy said.
In addition to alkanes, Vertellus offers encapsulation technologies for the PCM market.
“The expansion and capital enhancements in Zeeland present an opportunity for us to collaborate with channel partners and explore novel applications and solutions for various downstream market segments,” El Agizy said.