The Huntsman project will create 150 construction jobs and 25 full-time positions when the expansion reaches full capacity. Governor Robert Bentley said he hopes to continue the state’s partnership to help the company prosper in one of Alabama’s rural communities.
Early on in the project, Governor Bentley made a persuasive phone call to a top company official when Alabama was competing with Sweden for the plant.
“The products that are going to be produced today – that are going to be coming out of this expansion – will be going into first-generation, carbon fiber planes (and) automobiles that will be built 20 years from now. We will be satisfying the engineering needs a generation from now,” CEO Peter Huntsman said at the groundbreaking, according to a report on al.com.
The composite parts made with Huntsman’s specialty epoxy resins give high-performance industrial components greater impact resistance and reduced maintenance over their lifecycle. Perhaps most importantly, they provide greater strength from a lighter product. For the aerospace, automotive and oil and gas industries, this can lead to significant fuel and overall cost savings.
According to recent reports, fuel purchases represent 30 to 40 percent of a transport aircraft’s direct operating costs and jet fuel prices continue to climb. They are 18 percent higher today than they were five years ago.
“Every pound on a plane – from passengers and luggage to airplane parts – contributes to fuel costs. If you can reduce the weight of the airplane, you will reduce your fuel needs and lower operating costs,” says Carl Holt, Huntsman Aerospace & Composites Marketing Manager.
The use of lighter and stronger composite materials has dramatically grown over the past decade, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and lower costs for the airline industry.
Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield explained how Huntsman’s announcement helps advance the state’s economic development plan – Accelerate Alabama — over multiple targeted sectors.
“Chemicals represents the second largest export category for Alabama, and the industry employs more than 9,300 workers,” Canfield said. “In addition to increasing investment in our targeted chemical industry, Huntsman’s announcement takes advantage of growth trends in the sectors of aerospace/defense and automotive — areas Alabama also is targeting for expansion.”
Canfield said Commerce Project Manager April Gray worked with the company and the community to help bring the project to Washington County. The expansion project is valued at $65 million, according to al.com.
Huntsman Advanced Materials has invested significantly in the expansion of its capacity and capability to produce these resins both in the United States and Europe. The McIntosh investment will more than double the site’s production capacity, bringing Huntsman’s total global capacity to 11,000 metric tons upon completion of the project, expected in late 2014.
This investment keeps pace with the aerospace industry’s projected growth. According to the Boeing Market Outlook Report, over the next 20 years, the airline industry alone will need 34,000 new airplanes, of which 41 percent will replace older, less efficient airplanes.
“These investments will bring enormous benefit and value to our customers around the world, helping them address some of the engineering challenges they face to produce lighter, more efficient materials,” James Huntsman, president, Advanced Materials Division, said. “We greatly appreciate the help and support we have received from the State of Alabama in helping to bring this project to life.”