Honeywell plans to invest $33 million in upgrades at its Baton Rouge plant to produce a new and more environmentally advanced refrigerant.
The product — referred to by company officials as HFO-1234ze — will take the place of older products known to lead to global warming and ozone layer depletion, company officials said Wednesday.
Earlier this year, the new refrigerant was recognized by the Paris Aerosol Forum as the best new technical product innovation.
“If there’s any indication that we’re getting from demand, we’ll be doing this for a very long time,” Curtis Bresher, plant manager for Honeywell in Baton Rouge, said at a press conference from the Capitol where Gov. Bobby Jindal made the announcement.
The upgrade at the 66-year-old Baton Rouge chemical plant will occur in phases over the next two years, with Honeywell officials saying they do not anticipate interruptions in day-to-day operations.
The new refrigerant is designed to take the place of older products used today and is expected to be used in thermal insulating foam and aerosol applications as well as large stationary refrigeration units, according to a company statement.
Honeywell, based in Morris Township, N.J., employs about 200 workers at its Baton Rouge plant. The upgrade will translate into 11 new jobs, with workers earning about $64,000 a year plus benefits.
Despite earlier statements by the governor and others at the press conference Wednesday that the plant was at risk of closing without the new project, it was not scheduled to shut down, company officials said.
However, looming new regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency calling for the phasing out of many of today’s refrigerants in the next 10 years, make the upgrades essential, said Nina Krauss, a Honeywell spokeswoman.
It was also not certain that the upgrade would happen in Baton Rouge, said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret.
“There were multiple facilities that were considered for this investment,” Moret added, noting there were at least two other locations being considered in Europe and Asia.
“This technology will enable the facility to stay open for many decades to come,” said Andreas Kramvis, president and chief executive officer for Honeywell Specialty Materials, speaking at the press conference.
Honeywell will use Louisiana economic development incentives to help fund the project. The Modernization Tax Credit program will offer up to a 5 percent state tax credit for modernizing capital costs. And the company also will participate in the state’s Quality Jobs program, which allows for salary rebates or investment tax credits if Honeywell meets specific job creation goals.