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May 6, 2014

AkzoNobel inaugurates membrane-electrolysis plant in Germany

Mary Page Bailey

AkzoNobel N.V. (Amsterdam, the Netherlands; has inaugurated its new, highly efficient chlorine membrane electrolysis plant in the Rhein-Main area of Germany. The Frankfurt-based, state-of-the-art plant is the result of a major conversion and expansion project begun in 2011 and involving a €140 million investment by the company. Capacity has been increased by 50% whilst at the same time reducing the plant's overall ecological footprint by some 20%, says the company.

"This investment in our Specialty Chemicals business highlights the steps we are taking to strengthen our market positions and further improve our performance as a company," said AkzoNobel CEO Ton Buchner. "We are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve our operational efficiency, drive our sustainability agenda and improve our service to customers.”

Added Werner Fuhrmann, the company's executive committee member responsible for Specialty Chemicals: "This plant produces building blocks for the manufacture of products we all use on a daily basis ranging from pharmaceuticals and tooth paste to door and window frames. By radically improving our efficiency and increasing our use of renewable energy, we can take significant steps in making these everyday essentials even more sustainable."

The facility has been converted to the latest-generation membrane technology. Radical efficiency improvements will reduce energy consumption by 30% per metric ton (m.t.) of product. Boosting chlorine production capacity up to 250,000 m.t./yr will also reinforce the company's leading positions in Europe's chlor-alkali markets.

Products from the salt-chlorine chain, including chlorine, caustic lye, and derivatives, are essential basic chemicals and are used in countless everyday products and processes, ranging from water disinfection to clothing, amongst other things in the manufacture of epoxies, polyurethanes, polycarbonates, PVC and titanium dioxide. They are also used in the manufacture of more than two thirds of all pharmaceuticals.

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