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Ascend Honored for Replacing Coal Boilers at Alabama Site

Ascend Performance Materials’ cogeneration plant in Decatur, Alabama, received the Responsible Care Initiative of the Year award from the American Chemistry Council.

Washington-based ACC recognized Ascend “for its transition to cleaner energy [in Decatur] and a global commitment to reduce emissions,” officials said in a press release.

The Decatur site manufactures hexamethylene diamine (HMD), a raw material used to make nylon 6/6 resin. Nylon 6/6 is used in everyday products including automotive parts, airbags, electronics, textiles and other consumer goods. The manufacturing process of the HMD requires both steam and electricity.

In December 2021, Ascend replaced Decatur’s old coal-fired steam boilers with three new natural gas-fired cogeneration units to help reduce the company’s overall environmental footprint. These new units will not only produce steam, but will also produce electricity on site.

Once fully operational, the units are expected to reduce the facility’s allowable pollutant emissions by 80%. The units will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. Officials said the reduction is equivalent to taking about 60,000 passenger vehicles off the road each year.

“Our investment in three state-of-the-art cogeneration units has taken our Decatur facility to a new generation of power supply,” said Amanda Castro, vice president of engineering at Ascend Capital. . She added that the project “exemplifies our commitment to implementing processes and technologies that will help reduce our environmental impacts.”

When operating at full capacity, the new cogeneration units produce enough steam to power the entire site and offset most of the site’s electricity consumption from the grid. The project also created 11 new jobs. This effort is part of Ascend’s broader commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030, in support of the UN Global Compact’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“By investing in cleaner energy sources and committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Ascend clearly demonstrates its commitment to Responsible Care’s philosophy of doing more and doing it better,” said Tara Henriksen, VAC’s Executive Director of Responsible Care.

The winner was selected by ACC members and representatives of Responsible Care partner companies, who heard presentations from two finalist companies during a Responsible Care webinar, and then voted to select the winning project.

Ascend ranks among the world leaders in Nylon 6/6 resins and compounds. The company has annual sales of over $3 billion. Ascend is a unit of New York-based investment firm SK Capital Partners. Over the past few years, Ascend has made several acquisitions, most recently buying the compounding business of Indian materials company Formulated Polymers Ltd. in March.