• Capacity expansion of 10 percent completed ahead of schedule;
• Start-up of two new pilot plants to develop innovative and sustainable production technology.
The company has significantly invested to expand the production capacity of the existing plant and to build two new pilot plants for the development of production technology for butyl rubber. LANXESS is one of the world’s largest producers of butyl rubber, which is mainly used in the production of tires. The biggest share of butyl rubber produced in Zwijndrecht is premium halobutyl rubber.
“This investment underpins the major role that our butyl rubber production here in Zwijndrecht plays in our global strategy. Our plans for continued growth are founded on innovation and technology that serves the global megatrends – with the primary focus on solutions for sustainable mobility,” said Axel C. Heitmann, Chairman of the Board of Management at LANXESS, during the official opening ceremony.
Butyl rubbers are used in tire inner liners - the innermost, air- and humidity-impermeable layer of a tubeless tire. They keep tire pressure constant over a long period, thus making vehicles safer and ensuring they consume less fuel and therefore produce fewer harmful emissions. Butyl rubbers can also be used in the tread of a tire allowing better grip and comfort. Special applications include protective clothing and medical devices. The use of butyl in chewing gum production represents one particularly interesting niche market.
Capacity expansion to meet strong global demand
With the expansion, the capacity of the facility increased by 10 percent up to 150,000 metric tons of butyl rubber per year. The expansion representing an investment of EUR 20 million was completed at the end of 2011, several months ahead of schedule.
“In the coming decade, we expect demand to grow further so that the new capacities here in Zwijndrecht and from our upcoming plant in Singapore will be fully absorbed by the market,” said Ron Commander, Head of the business unit Butyl Rubber at LANXESS.
In addition to the expansion in Zwijndrecht, LANXESS is building a new butyl rubber facility on Jurong Island, Singapore, with a total capacity of 100,000 metric tons per year. The plant, which will be the most modern of its kind and represents the company’s single-largest investment ever, is expected to start up in the first quarter of 2013. LANXESS has another butyl rubber plant in Sarnia, Canada, with a capacity of 150,000 metric tons per year.
New more energy efficient technology
The new pilot plants at Zwijndrecht have been built in order to test an innovative production technology. The production process of butyl rubber is highly complex and requires process steps at temperatures, which range between minus 95 and up to plus 200 degrees Celsius. “As the technology leader in the global market for synthetic rubber we are constantly driving innovation. These pilot plants represent our large-scale implementation of the new process we are developing. The aim of the new technology is to use fewer resources and thus be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly,” Heitmann explained.
LANXESS in Belgium
With its four world-scale plants and more than 1,400 employees, Belgium is the second largest country in terms of production within the LANXESS Group. Besides the butyl rubber plant, LANXESS produces caprolactam and glass fibers – intermediates for the high-tech plastics – and also rubber chemicals at its plants in the Antwerp docklands.
Please find the speech of LANXESS CEO Dr. Axel C. Heitmann in the speech section.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.8 billion in 2011 and currently around 16,500 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 48 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.