Evonik: New fumed silica plant comes on stream in Antwerp
Evonik announced that it has started up on schedule its new plant complex in Antwerp, Belgium, for the production of fumed silica. With this, it can now serve the high demand for fumed silicas marketed under the Aerosil brand, said the company. Typical applications include paints and coatings, advanced adhesive systems, transparent silicones, and non-flammable insulation materials. Evonik said it has invested a sum in the upper double-digit million euro range in the new plant complex.
“We’re pursuing a clear growth strategy for our silica business. With the additional capacities, we’re ensuring supply for our customers over the long term,” said Harald Schwager, deputy chairman of Evonik’s executive board. According to the company, as part of Smart Materials, silica belongs to one of its four strategic growth engines with above-average market growth. The growth of the global market for fumed silicas is expected to exceed 4 % annually, outpacing the global economy as a whole. Along with the market for hydrophilic fumed silica, demand is also growing for speciality hydrophobic silicas. The existing plant in Antwerp has accordingly been upgraded such that hydrophilic fumed silica can be given hydrophobic properties by special post-treatment. Evonik therefore now produces hydrophobic Aerosil at a second European site in addition to Rheinfelden, thus servicing continued high demand.
Andreas Fischer, member of the management board of Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH, said: “We’re happy we’re now in a position to meet customer’s requests for higher quantities, in particular for hydrophobic Aerosil. The capacity to supply our own raw materials at the site, and its central location in Europe, were also especially important to us for this project. The site’s proximity to the international export port in Antwerp is an important factor in supplying our customers worldwide.”
With the simultaneous modernisation of the silane production plants as part of the investment, raw-material supply for Aerosil production as well as tyre silanes is assured, said the company.
In addition to the fumed silica Aerosil and the precipitated silica Ultrasil, Sipernat, Zeodent and Spherilex, Evonik also produces silica based matting agents under the brand name Acematt and other fumed metal oxides under the brand Aeroxide. Overall, Evonik has a global production capacity for all silica based products of about 1 million t/y.