The 100% increase in production capacity positions Vertellus as a low-cost, global supplier of alkanes as phase change material (PCM) market approaches $100mn.

Vertellus, a global manufacturer of fine and specialty chemicals with particular emphasis on the pharma and agriculture sectors, has doubled alkane production capacity at its Zeeland, Mich. hydrogenation plant. The company has invested in leading edge production equipment and infrastructure improvements that boost alkane production capacity 100% above prior levels. Vertellus expects alkanes to be one of several innovative chemistries supplying a phase change material (PCM) market anticipated to exceed $100mn by 2020.

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 Company’s sodium borohydride (SBH) 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.

North America’s competitive feedstock costs resulting from low natural gas prices are helping drive Vertellus’ alkane production efficiencies. The company initiated the Zeeland upgrades in 2014, the same year it commercialized hexadecane (A16T). With added alkane production capacity in place, Vertellus will develop eicosane (A20T) in its 2015 pipeline. Octadecane (A18T) represents the company’s largest category of alkane production due to its ability to absorb and release heat close to the human body temperature. Vertellus also offers specialized chemistries and high purity grades to serve customers’ unique needs.

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 including bedding, textiles and construction,’ El Agizy stated.

Customers are expressing a growing appetite for chemistries that efficiently regulate heat. Alkanes behave in a manner similar to a rechargeable thermal battery; continuously absorbing and releasing heat over thousands of cycles. Manufacturers of foam mattresses, ski apparel and even construction materials value alkanes for their ability to regulate thermal properties.

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.