Wacker Chemie studying siloxanes expansion in Germany

March 13, 2018

Wacker Chemie, the second largest producer of siloxanes, the raw material used to produce silicones, is carrying out a feasibility study to expand capacity in Germany.

Senior sources at Wacker tell CW that the company currently has a combined capacity of about 250,000 metric tons/year at Burghausen and Nuenchritz, with the latter plant slightly larger. It trails Dow as the second largest producer.

Auguste Willems, board member with responsibility for silicones, tells CW that Wacker will decide this year on where or how much capacity it will add. It also holds a 25% stake in a siloxanes production joint venture with Dow in China, which is designed to produce 200,000 metric tons/year. “The global market needs 100,000 metric tons/year of extra siloxanes capacity and Wacker has 20% of the market,” Willems says. The company wants to grow with the market. A decision is due this year and it would take about two years to add capacity, including a new reactor, he says

Separately, Wacker will shortly announce an expansion at its downstream silicones manufacturing complex in Calcutta, India, board member Christian Hartel tells CW. It will be a single-digit million euro investment adding functional fluids to the existing portfolio of elastomers and emulsions. The project will give Wacker a larger portfolio of silicone products in India, close to the company’s growing customer base. The new products can be used in consumer care, coatings, plastics and the agchems industry. The company imports siloxanes to feed the plant in India. Hartel says that the investment comes at a time when other producers, such as Dow, have closed their downstream silicones operations in India, opting instead to supply product from other facilities.

During today’s Wacker press briefing in Munich, the company’s board said that Wacker’s raw materials bill increased by about €100 million ($123.6 million) in 2017 compared with the year earlier. The company spends a total of €1.6-1.8 billion/year on raw materials, Tobias Ohler, CFO said in response to CW’s question. The single largest item it buys is silicon metal. In 2010 Wacker acquired a silicon metal manufacturing plant at Holla, Norway which has a capacity of 50,000 metric tons/year. It originally supplied one-third of Wacker’s needs but with expansions in capacities consuming the metal, this has dropped to a quarter of the company’s current needs. The company is spending €100 million to expand the Holla plant capacity. It declined to reveal how much it is adding.

By Natasha Alperowicz

Source: Chemical Week