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DuPont invests millions in new Kalrez plant near Newark

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DuPont Tralee Park Annex

DuPont opened the new Tralee Park Annex manufacturing plant in the Harmony Industrial Park on Monday to boost Kalrez production. It’s the company’s first new U.S. plant in decades. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEWARK – DuPont invested tens of millions of dollars into a new manufacturing plant near Newark to produce Kalrez, a component needed for semiconductor production.

The new 120,000-square-foot Tralee Park Annex plant at 332 Ruthar Drive in the Harmony Industrial Park marks the first new DuPont manufacturing plant built in the United States in decades and is evidence of the corporate giant’s commitment to its home state, CEO Ed Breen said at a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday.

DuPont Ed Breen

The investment at Tralee Park Annex is part of CEO Ed Breen’s repositioning of DuPont toward the future. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

“Delaware is clearly our home, always has been our home and we’re really happy we can invest in our home state here in Delaware,” he said.

The company did not disclose the cost for the project, although officials said it numbered in the tens of millions. DuPont acquired the warehouse adjacent to Las Aspiras Academy in 2018 for $6.5 million, according to county land records, and it announced back in 2018 that it planned to invest about $45 million into the facility.

Over the last few years, 850 construction jobs were supported in the fit-out of the state-of-the-art site that includes a 7,000-square-foot ISO Class 6 clean room, high-tech heating, cooling and lighting systems that are more energy efficient, and even a polymeric reflective roof that helps keep the building cooler.

The investment comes as part of DuPont’s transformation toward serving growth industries, including electronics, electric vehicles, water protection, among others. It already announced an investment of $50 million into building a new Glasgow production facility for its polishing wipes used in semiconductor production.

“Today, DuPont is better positioned than ever before to drive innovation and growth. The key to that is we’re really solving complex problems in this world,” said Breen, who has spearheaded the transformation over the past two years.

DuPont has manufactured Kalrez, a rubber-like perfluoroelastomer that can withstand intense chemical and heat exposure, in Delaware since 1978. It currently makes the Kalrez products at its Tralee Park plant less than 2 miles away – it’s already made about 3.5 million O-rings this year.

DuPont Nathan Whitmoyer

Nathan Whitmoyer, plant manager for Tralee Park Annex, shows off a Kalrez O-ring to the crowd Monday. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

“It might look like an ordinary O-ring to the untrained eye, but this is not something you can find in any home improvement store,” explained Nathan Whitmoyer, plant manager for Tralee Park and Tralee Park Annex. “Ours has very unique properties that allow it to be used for some of the harshest environmental conditions in manufacturing … Kalrez is the insurance policy that allows us to keep chemicals away from people and the environment.”

While it is used in a variety of applications from the oil and gas industry to aerospace vehicles to life sciences equipment, DuPont is targeting the semiconductor industry with the Tralee Park Annex. It has opened a new production line there along with all Kalrez packaging and shipping operations, while Tralee Park will continue to run two production lines and compound preparation, Whitmoyer said.

To assist the opening of the new site, DuPont hired 50 new workers, including those in operations, maintenance, engineering and continuous improvement roles. Whitmoyer said about 50 to 60 would work at the Annex each day with about 180 still at Tralee Park and contractors adding nearly 100 more across the two sites.

Additional job growth at the site will be dependent on the needs of the semiconductor industry, which is estimated to reach $1 trillion by 2030, according to McKinsey & Co. The Tralee Park Annex has a significant amount of open floor space that could be used for additional production lines as needed.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said that the state would continue to support DuPont through its changes. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

told a crowd of a few dozen state and DuPont leaders that Delaware would continue to support the company in its mission to reinvent itself for the future.

“We need more … I know everyone here from Gov. Carney’s Cabinet and our elected legislative leader wants to fill the other half of that vacant warehouse. We need to make sure to continue to invest,” she said. “Based upon the state’s resources and based upon your work effort, you know that you will have our true commitment.”

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