18 August 2010


Chemtura expanding MO precursor capacity and forming Korean JV targeting HB-LEDs

Chemtura Organometallics GmbH of Bergkamen, Germany (a subsidiary of US-based specialty chemical manufacturer Chemtura Corp) says that it is making a number of investments in response to the growing demand for precursors in the electronics, semiconductor and photovoltaic markets.

“We are further expanding our Bergkamen plant to provide a sustainable supply for tomorrow's global customer requirements of the specialty chemicals trimethylaluminum (TMA), methylaluminoxane (MAO), and diethylzinc (DEZ),” says Dr Ulrich Stewen, Chemtura’s general manager & president of Organometallics.

In Bergkamen, a fully backwards-integrated production line with increased DEZ capacity started operation in second-quarter 2010 to satisfy the growing demand for custom-made, high-purity DEZ in semiconductor and thin-film photovoltaic applications. Additional production lines for TMA and MAO will become operational during 2012.

The capacity expansions for different TMA grades aims to meet growing demand for specialty applications in the electronics, pharmaceutical and polymer industries. Chemtura says that its production technology will incorporate integrated recycling capabilities for a sustainable supply, based on readily available raw materials. Also, due to flexibility in container design, the firm adds that it will continue to satisfy individual customer needs during scale-up and large-scale commercial production.

“Chemtura offers a sustainable supply of essential products and services that enable industries to smoothly transition to clean and renewable energy generation, and to support the mass production of LEDs via high-quality TMA precursors and raw material,” Stewen says. “This capacity expansion complements our plans for regional footprints for the production of organometallic specialty chemicals in the Middle East and also in Korea.”

Chemtura Corp and South Korea’s UP Chemical Co Ltd (the first developer and supplier of atomic-layer deposition precursors for DRAM chip making) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form a joint venture that will manufacture and sell high-purity metal-organic precursors for the rapidly growing high-brightness light-emitting diode (HB-LED) market, focusing particularly on South Korea and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

The JV will leverage Chemtura's capability and technology related to metal-organic precursors for polymerization and other specialty applications, together with its backward integration for TMA for HB-LEDs. This will combine with UP Chemical’s capabilities in supplying high-purity metal-organic precursors for chemical vapor deposition (CVD) systems at semiconductor device makers in South Korea and the Asia Pacific.

The JV expects to begin supplying precursors to the HB-LED market by December, and to have fully integrated manufacturing capabilities for trimethylgallium (TMG) and trimethylaluminum (TMA) established in Korea in late 2011.

“Chemtura and UP Chemical will be uniquely positioned to meet the growing demand for metal-organic precursors for the high-brightness LED market,” reckons Chemtura’s chairman, president & CEO Craig Rogerson. “By establishing fully integrated manufacturing and distribution capability in Asia, we are addressing the expectations of customers in the region who demand local manufacturing for improved responsiveness and assurance of supply.” The JV advances Chemtura’s strategy for growth in the Asia Pacific, he adds.

“UP Chemical can seize a great opportunity through the partnership with Chemtura at a time when LED backlighting for LCD TVs has grown explosively and highly efficient LED lighting will replace traditional lighting in the coming years,” says UP Chemical's CEO Dr Hyun Koock Shin.