On July 20, 2011, specialty chemicals company LANXESS commenced work on expanding its menthol facility. The capacity of the plant at the Krefeld-Uerdingen site is to be doubled to meet the increasing demand on the world markets. Completion of the project is scheduled for the first half of 2012. "The additional quantities of thymol, crude menthol and D, I-menthol will allow our long-time contract partner Symrise to enter into long-term supply agreements," said Dr. Hubert Fink, head of the Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit (AII) at LANXESS. This investment is a clear commitment to Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia as an industrial location.
The groundbreaking ceremony on July 20 was attended not only by Fink and a number of LANXESS employees but also by a five-man delegation from Symrise AG, including its CEO, Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Bertram.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is – also thanks to the collaboration with Symrise – the world’s leading manufacturer of synthetic menthol and thymol. The specialty chemicals company supplies Symrise with menthol and the menthol precursor thymol in the full range of grades, also in purities needed by the pharmaceutical industry.
Symrise turns these products into scents and flavorings for the world market, for example for use in oral hygiene applications and products such as chewing gum and candy. High-grade menthol is also used in cosmetics and numerous pharmaceutical products – in sport balms that have a cooling effect in the event of painful injuries, for instance.
Efficient process for sustainable production
The extended production facility will make use of a new, highly efficient catalyst developed by the LANXESS research team. The major raw material cresol stem from the own AII production network on the Lower Rhine.
An energy recovery unit will be installed that has been developed together with the LANXESS Innovation group function. It will further improve the energy balance (CO2 footprint) for menthol.
As part of the construction project, three large distillation columns will be erected in fall 2011. The largest will be about 50 meters tall and it was designed by LANXESS engineers specifically for this purpose. "A column of such dimension is special for our plant," said production manager Dr. Lutz Heuer. Assembly of the enormous structural elements will begin once they have been delivered to their destination in Uerdingen – an operation that will require special transportation as a heavy load. "We will use three cranes, one of which has a lifting capacity of 900 metric tons and is the largest available in Germany. It will also enable us to lift the heaviest single element, which weighs 90 metric tons," said Heuer.
The Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit belongs to the Advanced Intermediates segment, which achieved total sales in fiscal 2010 of EUR 1,321 million. It has production sites in Germany (Krefeld-Uerdingen, Dormagen, Leverkusen and Brunsbüttel), China (Liyang), India (Nagda) and the United States (Baytown in Texas).
LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 15,500 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 46 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.