Plants: Evonik completes first plant in new PA12 complex; Wacker invests in new line for silicone specialties

IEvonik completes first plant in new PA12 complex

According to specialty chemicals company Evonik construction work on its largest investment to date, at more than EUR400 million, is progressing well. The first plant was completed in mid-October and is currently being commissioned. Further plants will follow by the first quarter of 2021, with full completion expected in the first half of 2021, says the German firm.

With the additional plants for polyamide (PA) 12 and its precursors being built at the Marl Chemical Park in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in addition to the existing production facilities there, Evonik will increase its overall capacity for the polymer by more than 50%. "Polyamide 12 is an important part of our strategic growth for special applications," says Dr. Claus Rettig, head of the Smart Materials Division. "With the new plant complex, we are consolidating our position as a market leader for this high-performance polymer." Polyamide 12 is used in attractive growth markets such as automotive engineering, gas piping, sports and 3D printing.

Marcus von Twistern, who is in charge of the entire project, states: "The project team has done an excellent job over the past months under the conditions of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. " Challenges such as interrupted supply chains or entry restrictions for assembly personnel had to be overcome. Von Twistern emphasises: "We have always found solutions, so we do not currently expect any major delays for the complete completion of the polyamide 12 plant complex".

Work on the concrete and steel structures has been completed, most of the units have already been delivered and installed, and the piping and electrical installations are in full swing. The future operating team has also already started training the new work processes.

Wacker invests in new line for silicone specialties

Meanwhile in other news, Munich-based chemical company Wacker is to begin construction on a new production line for silane-terminated polymers at its site in Nünchritz, Germany, this year. Such hybrid polymers are used as binders for formulating high-quality adhesives and sealants, liquid waterproofing systems and environmentally friendly wood-flooring adhesives, among other applications.

The investment budgeted for the construction project is in the mid double-digit million range. The production line will go onstream in 2022. Wacker says it intends to significantly expand its production capacities for hybrid polymers and to further strengthen its focus on specialty chemical products with this investment."

The German firm has for 15 years manufactured silane-terminated polymers at its production site in Burghausen, Germany. Since then, the hybrid-polymer business has experienced robust growth, the company now ranking the second largest manufacturer of silane-terminated binders for adhesives and sealants.

“Given the obvious rise in demand for such products, expanding our production capacity for hybrid polymers was a logical decision,” says Executive Board member Auguste Willems.

The location for the capacity expansion was selected on the basis of market access, availability of critical raw materials and, most importantly, production technology aspects. “We have the space for a fully integrated production line in Nünchritz, which we could even expand, should the need arise,” noted Willems.

Hybrid polymers rank among the most important growth fields for Wacker at present. “Our innovative alpha-technology based silanes are used in the manufacturing process,” says Robert Gnann who heads the company’s silicones business division. “Hybrid polymers have a unique property profile. That’s why they are used for formulating particularly high-quality and high-performance adhesives and sealants. Wacker has established a unique selling point worldwide with its alpha-silane technology.”

Silane-modified polymers enable the manufacture of environmentally friendly adhesives, with the alpha-silane technology allowing the firm to develop customised binders for a wide variety of adhesives and applications.

Applications for hybrid polymers, which the company has marketed globally under the Geniosil brand, include adhesives and sealants as well as construction, assembly and wood-flooring adhesives. Product properties like hardness, elasticity and tensile strength can be varied in a targeted manner with hybrid binders and adapted to special requirements for adhesive or sealant applications.

In addition, further hybrid polymers developed in a patented process open up numerous new application areas. These include water-repellent sealing membranes for flat roofs and balconies on the one hand, and extremely strong adhesives, grout mortars, crack-filling compounds, paints and wear-resistant coatings for concrete floors, on the other.


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