Kuraray has decided to increase its polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) resin production capacity of European subsidiary Kuraray Specialities Europe GmbH (KSE) by 20,000 tons per year, to 70,000 tons. KSE, has taken this decision in response to the expansion of demand for PVA resin in the European market, and to the increasing number of applications for this product, which it markets under the trade name, MOWIOL. KSE, located in Frankfurt, Germany, was established in December 2001. The additional production facilities are scheduled to be completed and to commence operations at the beginning of 2005.

In 1950, Kuraray became first in the world to develop an industrial quality PVA resin, using the Company's PVA fiber as the raw material. Subsequently, a broad range of applications for this special resin was developed, making use of its water solubility and other unique properties. It is now used in such products as fiber-sizing agents, paper coatings, and adhesives. PVA is a raw material for PVB resin, which is used to manufacture a film used between two layers of glass in laminated automobile windshields. It is also used to manufacture the polarized film essential to the production of liquid crystal displays. The use of PVA can only be expected to grow in the future.

The Kuraray Group has a PVA production capacity of 194,000 tons per year, at four manufacturing facilities: the Okayama Plant in Okayama Prefecture; the Nakajo Plant in Niigata Prefecture; the Singapore Plant of Poval Asia Pte Ltd.; and KSE's facilities in Frankfurt.

The Kuraray Group has designated as its core businesses PVA resin and peripheral products (the EVOH resin EVAL, PVA fiber KURALON, the new synthetic fiber KURALON K-Ⅱ, etc.), and over the medium to long term will be working to expand and strengthen these businesses.

KSE was established as a manufacturing and sales company following the December 2001 acquisition by Kuraray of the PVA-related operations of Clariant AG. Since its establishment, KSE has steadily expanded its business by employing the technological and marketing resources that Clariant had pursued in the development of new applications and sales channels for PVA-related products in Europe. Through the fusion of KSE's high-level expertise with the know-how accumulated by Kuraray over its long years as a pioneer in the field of PVA resins, the Kuraray Group will develop new PVA products and applications, which we believe will allow the growth of our PVA-related businesses.

Summary of KSE's facilities expansion project

Location Frankfurt, Germany
Production capacity
Existing 50,000 tons per year
Projected increase 20,000 tons per year
(Completion scheduled for the beginning of 2005)
Total 70,000 tons per year
Investment Approximately ¥3.0 billion

Supplementary Information

1. Annual demand for PVA resin (Kuraray estimate)

Worldwide, excluding China over 500,000 tons
Worldwide, including China approximately 900,000 tons

2. Main applications for PVA resin

Raw material for: PVA fiber, fiber -sizing agents, paper coating, adhesives, emulsion stabilizer, films (optical films, textile packaging, etc.), raw material for PVB resin.

3. Kuraray Group PVA resin production capacity by region

Kuraray's Okayama and Nakajo Plants 124,000 tons
Poval Asia(*) 20,000 tons
KSE 50,000 tons
Total 194,000 tons

(Annual production)

  • * Poval Asia (A joint venture of Kuraray and The Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.) has a total production capacity of 40,000 tons, of which 20,000 tons is allocated to Kuraray.

4. KSE Information

Company name Kuraray Specialities Europe GmbH
Headquarters Frankfurt, Germany
Production capacity MOWIOL PVA resin 50,000 tons per year
MOWITAL PVB resin 20,000 tons per year
President Dr. Gerd Lepper
Paid-in capital 20 million euros
(100% capitalized by Kuraray Europe*)
Employees approximately 250
  • * Kuraray Europe GmbH is the 100% owned European regional coordination company of Kuraray Co., Ltd.