INDUSTRYNEWS Suppliers beefing up EPDM supply
ligned with the high growth transportation and infrastructure megatrend, the global automotive industry is projected to grow by 5% a year, with growth rates of 10% a year in China and South Asia. This translates to a 60% increase in demand for automotivespecified materials in the next ten years, with demand for ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) expected to outstrip global supply. As such, US chemical firm Dow Chemical and Germany-based Lanxess are both putting in more efforts into EPDM supply. Dow will initiate a feasibility study to construct a plant for producing metallocene EPDM, to be sold under the brand name Nordel IP hydrocarbon rubber, and to identify potential partners and locations for the facility. The facility is expected to incorporate Dow’s latest proprietary catalyst technology and production via its solution process. Its elastomers portfolio is enabled by the Insite technology, which was launched in 1993 and has delivered nine new polymers that have generated US$17 billion in revenue and, since 2005, have been growing at a rate of 15% a year. End-use applications for Nordel IP include automotive weatherstripping, automotive hoses and belts, building profiles, footwear soling and general rubber products. In other news, Lanxess is investing EUR12
million to convert 50% of its EPDM production in Geleen, the Netherlands, to Keltan ACE technology. During 2013, the company will implement the new technology at the largest of its three production lines, which accounts for half of the total production capacity of 160,000 tonnes/year in Geleen. The company says that compared with conventional production processes, Keltan ACE technology reduces energy requirements for rubber production and it does not require catalyst extraction as a result of high catalyst efficiency. Furthermore, the process enables the manufacture of new EPDM rubber grades. In addition, Lanxess will construct a new building in Geleen for its global EPDM business. To accommodate up to 120 staff, the building will be constructed on the Chemelot chemical industrial site. Inauguration is planned for the beginning of 2013. Meanwhile, Lanxess has started integrating the EPDM business of Dutch company DSM, which it acquired for EUR310 million. The company also plans to commercially produce EPDM from bio-based ethylene by the end of the year. It will be the first form of bio-based EPDM in the world and will be sold under the brand name Keltan Eco. The bio-based ethylene is produced by dehydrating ethanol from Brazilian sugar cane and will be supplied by Braskem via pipeline to
Lanxess’s existing EPDM plant in Brazil, where it currently produces 40,000
tonnes/year of regular EPDM. It is expected that the first batches of the Keltan Eco will amount to several hundred tonnes.
Lanxess manufactures its premium EPDM rubber under the proprietary name of Keltan
New bladder facility in Brazil
ermany-based Rhein Chemie, a whollyowned subsidiary of speciality chemicals firm Lanxess, is investing EUR10 million in a new facility in Porto Feliz, Brazil, to manufacture Rhenoshape curing bladders and Rhenogran pre-dispersed additives. This is part of the EUR30 million investment by Lanxess in Brazil, which also includes a 20,000 tonne/year-plant for producing the company’s engineering plastics Durethan and Pocan. The plant will have an output of 2,000 tonnes/ year of rubber additives and produce 170,000 bladders/year. It will start up in the fourth quarter of 2012. Rhein Chemie also has facilities in Argentina and Uruguay that produce Rhenoshape bladders. It entered the bladder business by acquiring Argentinean company Darmex early this year and has also expanded 1
rubber journal ASIA • OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2011
its bladder capacity in Argentina by 40%. Global bladder production is estimated to be worth EUR300 million, with 40% of bladder production outsourced to independent manufacturers. The improved thermal conductivity of the bladder compound, plus a number of other factors, increases the quality of a tyre, resulting in greater safety and lower rolling resistance and thus, lower fuel consumption. Last year, Rhein Chemie’s turnover was EUR283 million, an increase of 40% compared to the previous year, and in the first half of 2011, this climbed by 19%. Its growth is aided by demand from Asia, where its turnover grew by 8%. To accelerate its growth, this year, Rhein Chemie also took over two product lines from US-based Flexsys and acquired the tyre release agent business of Germany-based Wacker.
Plastics and Rubber Asia October-November 2011 electronic issue