1928 Chemical Expansion
The Grasselli Chemical Company was the forerunner of DuPont’s Grasselli Chemicals Department. At the time of DuPont’s purchase in 1928, Grasselli was one of the oldest diversified chemical manufacturers in the nation with 16 factories throughout the South and Midwest. DuPont looked to Grasselli to expand its product line in acids and heavy chemicals and to reach new regional markets.
One of Grasselli’s most important products was lithopone, a zinc-based white pigment. In 1930 all of DuPont’s lithopone production was centralized at Grasselli, and DuPont built upon research conducted there as it entered the titanium dioxide market in the next two decades.
Grasselli was a long-time manufacturer of inorganic and organic insecticides and became the umbrella organization when DuPont consolidated its scattered biochemicals businesses during the late 1940s. Despite some early financial and technical setbacks, Grasselli expanded its inorganic operations during the next decade to serve 20 percent of the U.S. herbicide market with its substituted urea products. In 1959 the Grasselli Chemicals Department was reorganized into the Industrial and Biochemicals Department.
Opened in 1956 to manufacture chemicals for the Grasselli Chemicals Department, DuPont’s La Porte, Texas, site produced a broad range of chemicals serving industries from agricultural products to clothing. Through the 1960s and 1970s, the plant produced Hyvar® X bromacil weed killer and opened new facilities for formaldehyde production and other biochemicals. One of La Porte’s main products is herbicides: production of Glean herbicide began in 1983 and Velpar® in 1988. La Porte is also the site of the world’s largest polyvinyl alcohol plant. This product, marketed as Elvanol®, is used in weaving polyester blends.
In the 1990s, La Porte developed new environmental programs as part of DuPont’s goal of zero waste and zero emissions. La Porte’s revolutionary Terathane production system cut air emissions by 200,000 pounds, brought solid waste down 25 million pounds, and reduced liquid waste by 500 million pounds. The new process saved DuPont over $5 million a year, proving that environmental protection could be good for business. The La Porte Terathane team has earned Excellence Awards from DuPont and accolades from the state of Texas.