Eastman Chemical Company - History

History

An effect of World War I was a scarcity in raw materials such as photographic paper, optical glass, gelatin and many chemicals, including methanol, acetic acid and acetone. After the war ended, Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman began working to have an independent supply of chemicals for his photographic processes. His search for suitable quantities of methanol and acetone led him to the southern United States.

In 1920, Tennessee Eastman was founded with two major platforms – organic chemicals and acetyls. Products such as calcium acetate, sodium acetate, acetic acid, and acetic anhydride became the basis for the company’s platforms.

During World War II, RDX, a powerful explosive, was manufactured for the U.S. government at Holston Ordnance Works at Tennessee Eastman sites. At the peak of production near the end of the war, the ordnance plant was producing a million and a half pounds of explosives each day. Tennessee Eastman was responsible for managing the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee which produced enriched uranium for the Manhattan Project, from 1943 to May 1947. The company transferred scientists from Kingsport, Tennessee.

Eastman introduced acetate tow to the industry in 1952 and remains a leading global manufacturer, selling under the trademark name Estron. Estron is used to produce items such as cigarette filters and ink reservoirs for fiber-tip pens. The most significant product line developed for use with cellulose acetate tow is Estrobond plasticizers, used to impart rigidity and hardness to acetate fiber rods.

By the late 1960s, Tennessee Eastman was manufacturing products that were used in clothing, home furnishings, the automobile industry and other areas. Additional manufacturing facilities were constructed in strategic locations.

During the 1970s Eastman began producing PET plastics, a light-weight, recyclable packaging material. Today Eastman is the world’s largest producer of PET polymers, which are widely used in plastic packaging, including bottles for water, carbonated beverages, and cosmetics.

In 1983, Eastman opened the first commercial coal gasification facility in the United States at its Kingsport plant site to produce chemicals from syngas rather than petroleum. Eastman also owns and operates a gasification facility at its Longview, Texas, site to produce syngas from natural gas. Eastman Gasification Services Company, formed in 2003, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastman that supplies gasification facility design and start-up. The "Chemicals from Coal Facility" at the Kingsport plant was recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in 1995.

In 1994 Eastman Chemical Company spun off from Eastman Kodak and became an independent corporation. In early 2005 Eastman broke ground on the first world-scale manufacturing facility using IntegRex, a technology that reduces the number of intermediate process steps in producing PET resin.

In January 2012, Eastman Chemical Corporation is buying Solutia Incorporation for about $3.4 billion, a 42 percent premium over January 26, 2012 share closing price to drive its sluggish growth and focus on emerging markets, particularly the Asia-Pacific region.

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