There is a company in Chicago, AMCOL (ACO), with roughly $700 million market cap. It has the obscure distinction of being the largest producer of cat litter in the world and they mine bentonite, which is the primary raw ingredient in cat litter, as their principal business. AMCOL is also a leader in innovative nanocomposites and nanoclays. Recalling the IBM-Eastman Kodak time scale, the inflection point for IBM occurred somewhere around 2001 as the Microdrive cost per megabyte declined from around $1.00 a megabyte in 1998 and $10,000 digital SLRs to about $0.20 a megabyte - resulting in over 18 million digital cameras being shipped worldwide. What has happened for AMCOL is along a similar four- to five-year time scale, having gone from technical feasibility to a joint venture with Mitsubishi Gas in 2003 to commercial scale-up in 2006, with an increasing number of brewing companies evaluating nanocomposites for use in PET beer bottles.
Nanocomposites solve the principal problem with plastic beer containers, which is, to be gas selective, it has to retain CO2 and resist O2. The point there is it is nearly impossible to do that with plastic consistent with the shelf-life requirement, hence the use of either glass or aluminum. Aluminum is being banned more broadly in Europe, starting with Germany, and so you're seeing a number of German brewers accelerate their development of nanocomposite PET beer bottles first, and Heineken is soon to follow. In the United States, Coors has launched their product, Miller Brewing, Anheuser and others are going to follow. The sole source provider of the nanocomposite is AMCOL.
Stickman, add my thanks for post. Did you mean Wall Street Transcript, or Journal? It was disappointing that Washow would not say anything more positive than usual in the CC. I believe a Korean company is using ACO nano's for beer bottles.