Catalysis is a major domain of research activity in the PE industry and one of the primary ways to deliver competitive advantage to UNIPOL™ licensees.

Over the years, polymerization of catalysts for the production of polyethylene has undergone a dramatic evolution. Starting in the 1930s and ‘40s, the first low-density polyethylenes were produced in high-pressure reactors using free radical catalysts that produced large quantities of long chain branching. In the 1950s, Ziegler-Natta and chromium-based catalysts were introduced to make high-density polyethylenes in low pressure, liquid-phase processes. Improvements in these catalysts continued through the 1970s. In the late 1960s, Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, learned how to use the Ziegler-Natta and chromium-based catalysts in the gas-phase to produce high-density polyethylene. In the late 1970s, Union Carbide also learned how to make linear low-density polyethylenes.

Catalyst Evolution Timeline

In the first half of the 1990s, Exxon Chemical, now ExxonMobil Chemical developed revolutionary single-site metallocene catalysts for use in the gas-phase using the UNIPOL™ PE Process as the development platform for metallocene technology development. The catalyst business was consolidated in 1997 when Univation was formed as a joint venture between Exxon Chemical Company and Union Carbide Corporation, now a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company.

Continuous Development

Univation’s researchers have developed the extraordinary capability to produce PE resins with bimodal property attributes, but made on a single UNIPOL™ reactor, replacing the need for more costly- to- produce two reactor configurations.

Metallocene catalysts produce high performance (HPR) and easy processing (EZP) mLLDPE resins. These metallocene catalyzed PE resins offer superior product properties from toughness to clarity to improved processability for end-use products that stand out.

Today, Ziegler-Natta, chromium, metallocene and engineered bimodal catalysts are all available to you through Univation.

Our catalyst developments continue to expand the range of differentiated product opportunities. We also monitor emerging catalyst chemistries around the world and carefully examine promising developments.

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