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September 27, 2012

Demand for new technology drives multi-million AkzoNobel expansion

Gerald Ondrey

AkzoNobel (Amsterdam, the Netherlands; is to boost capacity at one of its U.S. sites in order to meet increasing demand from the semi-conductor industry, particularly for the production of light emitting diodes (LEDs). Financial details were not disclosed.

The investment — at the company's Battleground facility in Texas — involves extending the tri-methyl-aluminum (TMAL) unit and building a new tri-methyl-gallium (TMG) plant - consolidating the plant's status as the largest of its kind in the world. TMAL is a feedstock for TMG, a high-purity metal organic (HPMO) used in products such as LED wafer manufacturing.

"The LED industry has been experiencing strong growth, well in excess of 20%/yr," explains Werner Fuhrmann, AkzoNobel's executive committee member responsible for Specialty Chemicals. "This investment will make production more cost-efficient and ensure that we continue supplying our customers with a highly specialized product which is playing an increasingly important role in 21st century technology."

The global LED industry is projected to grow significantly over the next decade, driven by applications in displays such as PCs, laptops and tablet screens. The massive increase in the use of LEDs for general lighting is also expected to contribute strongly as they become the preferred source of light over incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps, due to their low energy consumption and extended lifetime.

The expanded TMAL unit is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2013, while the new TMG plant will be ready in August 2014.



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