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PBI To Expand Capacity, Add Jobs

Charlotte-based PBI Performance Products Inc. - a manufacturer of high-performance polybenzimidazole (PBI) fiber and polymer for firefighter jackets and other heat- and flame-resistant applications, and a wholly owned business of North Charleston, S.C.-based The InterTech Group Inc. - will invest $15 million over the next five years to expand its Rock Hill, S.C., plant and to develop advanced polymer applications using its Celazole® PBI polymer.

The project, which is the first major expansion since PBI began operations in 1983, will increase the capacity at the plant by 50 percent and include new fiber spinning technology as well as new processes for tailoring Celazole polymers to applications such as separations, coatings and films. PBI expects to add 19 new positions as a result of the expansion, creating at least 10 in the first year. The company plans to begin construction in 2010.

"The constantly growing number of applications where polybenzimidazole fibers and polymers have proven their value necessitates we invest in the future with expanded capacity and new process technology that will precede and surpass the expectations of the market," said Grant Reeves, president, PBI Performance Products. "We will be proactive in this endeavor by continuing to maintain excess capacity for large programs, with direct support for research and development, global marketing to publicize PBI's unmatched physical properties and collaboration with the world's most respected designers and engineers."

PBI heat- and flame-resistant fiber does not burn in air, melt or drip, and remains strong and flexible after exposure to flame. Celazole PBI polymer is an engineering thermoplastic available in pure polymer form, shapes, and a moldable blend of PBI and polyetheretherketone. PBI Performance products are used in a variety of applications including protective clothing for fire fighters, military personnel and industrial workers; semiconductors and electronics; aerospace and automotive; and other high-temperature applications.

December 2, 2008

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