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DuPont Adds New Fiber to Diet

by Marc S. Reisch
April 11, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 15

DuPont has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in high-performance fiber maker Magellan Systems International for an undisclosed sum.

Eight-year-old Magellan makes an ultra-high-strength polymeric fiber originally developed in the late 1990s by Akzo Nobel scientist Doetze Sikkema. Because of its strength, stiffness, and resistance to high temperatures, the fiber may enhance protection of military, law enforcement, firefighting, and industrial personnel.

Akzo--at one time DuPont's arch rival in the high-performance p-aramid fiber business--code-named the fiber M5, most likely because its chemical name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue: poly{2,6-<br>diimidazo-[4,5b-4,5e]pyridinylene-1,4(2,5-dihydroxy)phenylene}.

The Dutch firm lost interest in the high-performance fiber business and transferred it to Acordis, which in 2000 sold the Twaron p-aramid operations in the Netherlands to Japanese fiber producer Teijin. That same year, Eugene H. (Gene) Vetter, Magellan's CEO, acquired the M5 project.

As word got around about Magellan's work on M5, DuPont's interest grew, and it contacted the firm in mid-2001, a Magellan spokesman says. The two companies entered into a development partnership in early 2002 when DuPont also took a minority stake in Magellan.

Since then, DuPont has provided Magellan with technical expertise in design and construction of an M5 pilot plant. The 60-metric-ton-per-year facility was completed in December not far from DuPont's own Kevlar brand p-aramid fiber and Nomex brand m-aramid fiber R&D and production facility in Richmond, Va.


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