History Niagara Falls plant

History Niagara Falls plant

In 1924, the first semi-commercial chemical plant, based on acetylene, was put into operation in Niagara Falls, NY by Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Company. Within a year, the plant was expanded to full-scale production and Niacet Chemical Corporation was formed under the joint ownership of Carbide and Carbon Chemicals, E.I. Dupont, and Shawinigan Power Company. The company name, Niacet, was derived from Niagara acetylene.

In 1928, Niacet built the first plant to produce synthetic glacial acetic acid by air oxidation of acetaldehyde. Sodium acetate and other derivatives soon followed. Also introduced here in 1937 was one of the earliest productions of vinyl acetate by the treatment of acetic acid with acetylene. During World War II, output of acetylene and its derivatives was greatly increased to meet essential needs.

In 1946, Union Carbide Corporation purchased full ownership of the company from its two partners.  Although the company name changed, the trademark “Niacet”, remained, being regularly applied to acetic acid derivatives produced at the Niagara Falls plant. Over time, however, technology evolved; and the processes used at this facility were no longer competitive. By the late 70’s, the site was reduced to only 2 product lines, Acetate Salts and NIAPROOF Anionic Surfactants. The plant was barely profitable and was about to be shut down.

In 1978, an executive of Union Carbide Corporation, Michael R. Brannen, purchased the plant facilities and all business activity associated with the Niagara Falls site.  The business was re-named Niacet Corporation, becoming a locally owned and operated business with deep roots in industrial manufacturing.

Soon thereafter, the company installed new equipment to produce propionate salts to serve the bakery industry.  Following this investment, and capitalizing on the site’s unique manufacturing capabilities, sodium phenoxy acetate was introduced to serve the pharmaceutical industry. These additions broadened the product portfolio and established a new base for growth.  Niacet boasts the largest capacity in North America for organic acid salts such as Sodium Acetate, Sodium Diacetate, and Calcium Propionate.  These products function as buffering agents, flavoring ingredients, bakery preservatives and much more.  Sodium Phenoxy Acetate (SPA), for which Niacet is the only US producer, is an intermediate used exclusively in the fermentation of penicillin-V.

In 1989, the company commissioned a Monochloroacetic Acid production unit, to meet internal and merchant product demand, along with co-product Hydrochloric Acid supply.  In 1999, Niacet expanded capacity to produce high quality Sodium Acetate Trihydrate, meeting market requirements in the household products sector.  In 2004, a major expansion of the Calcium Propionate process occurred, leading to the introduction of crystalline Calcium Propionate, a first in the marketplace with superior quality characteristics.

In 2009, Niacet completed design and installation of its newest production facilities for Sodium and Calcium Stearoyl Lactylates. These lactylate salts are commonly used in the bakery industry as dough strengtheners and crumb softeners.  They also have wide applications in cosmetics and personal care products.