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December 20, 2012

Evonik expands U.S. production of precipitated silica

Gerald Ondrey

Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; plans to increase its annual production capacities for precipitated silica at its site in Chester, Pa. by around 20,000 metric tons. The new facility, which received an investment in lower double-digit euros range, is scheduled to become operational in 2014. The capacity expansion in Chester underscores the plans of the Evonik Group to expand its global silica capacities by about thirty percent over the level of 2010 by 2014.

“The market growth for precipitated silicas is primarily based on the trend to use fuel-efficient low-resistance tires,” explains Thomas Haeberle, member of the Evonik Executive Board and responsible for the company’s Resource Efficiency Segment. The use of silicas in combination with silanes allows for manufacturing tires with significantly reduced rolling resistance, which can save up to 8% of fuel (compared to conventional car tires). Evonik is the only manufacturer to offer both components, making it a competent partner for high-performance tire formulations for its customers in the tire and rubber industry.

“After expanding our plants and constructing new facilities in Asia and Europe, we’re now building up our capacities for our precipitated silicas Ultrasil and Sipernat in North America as well," says Johannes Ohmer, head of the Inorganic Materials Business Unit. Evonik produces precipitated silicas at ten sites in nine countries. “We first saw rising demand in Europe, and now Asia and America are following suit along with other regions. Our charted expansion accompanies the growth of our global key customers in the tire industry,” says Ohmer.

 Evonik is a global market leader in silicas. In addition to precipitated silicas used as stabilizing fillers for fuel-efficient tires, the Group also manufactures fumed silicas for application in silicone rubber, coatings, adhesives, and sealants. Overall, the global annual production capacity of Evonik for precipitated and fumed silicas as well as matting agents reaches 500,000 metric tons.

Parallel to applications in fuel-efficient tires, precipitated silica is also used as a carrier and anti-caking agent in the feed and food industry and serves as an additive in paints and coatings. The fumed silica Aerosil optimizes the surfaces and properties of a wide range of materials. Aerosil products are used to polish silicon panels in the chip industry and to make coatings more resistant to scratching.


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