MLT uses AI, machine learning to forecast resin prices

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Generated: 9/17/2021
MLT uses AI, machine learning to forecast resin prices

The resin market is facing challenges and is under downward pressure, with only about 35 million tons of resins sold worldwide in 2018. As an example, polyol resin accounted for the most volume sales and represented about 16.84 million tons.

MLT says the market has a high demand for low-molecular-weight polyols and that it can offer new products with a new set of properties for low-molecular-weight polyols. MLT’s strategy is to promote and improve new applications of existing polyols and develop new polyols. For example, polyethylene polyol accounts for more than 60 percent of MLT’s polyols.

MLT says it is expanding its production capacity for polyisobutene polyol (POLi) in Qingdao, China. Also, it plans to establish new polyol production facilities in China and invest about $15 million annually in resin production capacity expansion.

“We look for opportunities to expand and deepen our penetration in the global market and are also committed to continuing to expand our product line in major markets including resins and polyols.”

By using MLT’s unique technology, China’s polyol and polyisobutylene market in particular will have the capacity to increase to more than 30 million tons of polyols by 2022, growing by 10 percent per year, according to MLT. This market will surpass the US polyol and polyisobutylene segment’s total current production capacity of almost 25 million tons. This growth will contribute to reducing China’s total dependence on imported polyol.

MLT’s new products such as POLi will also help MLT expand its resin and polyol market share and establish long-term cooperation with polyol suppliers.

MLT’s polyol plant in Qingdao, China will have a capacity of 3 million tons per year and a capital expenditure of $500 million. It will add a POLi production line. MLT says the new POLi plant will help it supply large quantities of POLi, expand its production capacity for POLi in the Chinese market, and make polyols in China more competitive.

MLT sees demand for POLi as a result of its new polyol and polyisobutylene production facilities and high-value POLi applications in the automotive and pharmaceutical segments. Specifically, MLT adds the demand for POLi will continue to grow as large-diameter POLi applications emerge in the automotive segment in China.

By using MLT’s technology to produce POLi at high production volumes and low cost, MLT expects to develop POLi as a major resin segment for Chinese and international customers, including those in large-diameter POLi applications such as the automotive applications. MLT’s POLi sales for major market applications are expected to reach about $2 billion this year.

This new large-diameter POLi segment will drive POLi growth and will help the global resin market to reduce dependence on imported POLi. By 2027, the global resins market is expected to be at almost 400 million tons, with China’s share up to 70.4 percent, according to a report released by Fosun Group in January.

MLT expects to expand POLi manufacturing capacity to about 15 million tons per year in 2025. This new POLi capacity will be the largest by value among all resins in the world, surpassing the entire annual capacity of resins. MLT’s POLi capacity will also increase 10 times over this period. Fosun Group says it will boost POLi demand by more than 10 percent per year.

MLT has five research centers and five research teams that are conducting a wide range of polymer research and development projects. MLT says all its technical groups are working on increasing the production capacities of POLi, the large-diameter POLi, high-molecular-weight polyols, and other areas with the objective of building a polyol industry platform and becoming a major global polyol maker.

On May 18, MLT introduced DYMOL, a high-efficiency polyisobutene resin that is suitable for a variety of applications including use as a toughened resin for the injection molding industry. MLT plans to further expand the DYMOL application area and introduce new products in the polyol and polyisobutene market.

DYMOL is made by polymerization of a renewable resource, soy methyl ester, with a high yield of polyisobutene. The resulting resin has a low content of free methyl isobutyl ketone and dimer. This leads to a highly stable cured resin without the toxic component. DYMOL has a superior balance of mechanical property, thermal stability, and fire resistance properties.

DYMOL also contains large amounts of double bonds compared to other polyisobutene resins and therefore has excellent resistance to weathering. The resulting material will greatly expand the application scope of the polyisobutene resin.

DYMOL has greater mechanical strength and heat resistance for an equivalent viscosity than other polyisobutene resins. This feature will allow it to be used for applications where higher mechanical and thermal properties are required, including use in thermosetting composite materials and high-temperature applications.

MLT is the only company in China providing high-efficiency polyisobutene resin for injection molding industry applications.

From the first polyols to polyisobutene, MLT is proud of its long history of technical service to the polyol and polyisobutylene industries.

MLT founder Zhongkai Hu served as the president of the Chemical Industry Association, one of China’s most influential chemical groups, and played a major part in establishing China’s polymer and rubber industries. MLT’s Zhongkai also served as an industry adviser to the Chinese government.

From 1980 to 2010, MLT was also the country’s primary producer of polyol polyisobutene, polyisobutene polyolefin copolymers, and functionalized polyol polyisobutylene (TPBO). During this period, MLT established one of the largest capacity, high-purity and ultra-low-toxicity polyisobutene research and development center networks in the polyol and polyisobutene industries. These research and development centers served as the most important resource for MLT in the R&D field for more than 20 years.

In 2010, MLT decided to separate from the chemical industry. It established a new business, Polyol Production Science and Technology Co. and a research center, as well as its own professional qualification department and a research institution. MLT has devoted a part of its capital and technology to these businesses until now. The polyisobutylene and polyol businesses were successfully separated and transferred to MLT and continue operating successfully today.

MLT’s technical capabilities in the polyols and polyisobutylene industry were the result of a combination of technical achievements and the strength of its market position. These include large-scale polyols and polyisobutylene production in China in the 1980s, a strong technical capability in research and development for high-efficiency polyisobutene in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the establishment of a high-quality research institute and a polyol laboratory with a large capacity for the domestic polymer market. These capabilities are all being fully realized even 10 years after leaving the chemical industry.

MLT says its polyol production capacity is the largest in the world today. It also says it has extensive resources for polymer research and development.

“Together with the polyol and polyisobutylene businesses transferred from the chemical industry, MLT will build the polyol industry platform as China’s first and leading polyol maker.”

At the same time, MLT will continue developing polyols and polyisobutene so that they can serve the demand for new products in China and the global polyol and polyisobutene markets.

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