Leverkusen/Bitterfeld - LANXESS AG is building a new chemical plant at its site in Bitterfeld, Germany. This marks the specialty chemicals group’s move into a new segment of the water treatment business.
The company is investing a total of around EUR 30 million in this pioneering project. LANXESS plans to develop and produce membrane filtration technology in Bitterfeld. The State of Saxony-Anhalt is sponsoring this project by up to EUR 6 million. In the long term, this project will create 200 new jobs at the Bitterfeld site.
The new plant is scheduled to be taken into operation for a pilot and development phase towards the end of this year. As things stand today, the first products should be launched on the market in 2011. An area totaling some 4,000 square meters has been set aside for the creation of high-tech laboratories, logistics areas, offices and a new, state-of-the-art production facility.
The membrane technology is used to filter out unwanted substances from water. The membrane’s chemical composition and structure make it possible to filter out substances such as nitrates, pesticides, herbicides, viruses, bacteria and the smallest particles. As the water passes through the filter, this filter extracts suspended particles and other unwanted substances. In other words, membranes form a selective barrier. By moving into this new field of technology, the Group is opening up further areas of application in water treatment. The volume of the global membrane market alone is currently estimated at around EUR 1 billion, and this figure is set to rise further.
Key commitment to Germany as a business location
“Usable water supplies are dwindling worldwide, thus becoming an increasingly valuable resource. Thanks to LANXESS’ pioneering investment in Bitterfeld, we are now able to offer additional products for water treatment and thus further strengthen our strong market position,” explained Axel C. Heitmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of LANXESS AG, at a groundbreaking ceremony held on Thursday in Bitterfeld. “Our high-tech products, such as the powerful Lewatit ion exchange resins, are already helping to ease global water problems today.”
“I am delighted that LANXESS has chosen to invest further in Bitterfeld-Wolfen. And I am proud that the site performed so well in the face of tough international competition,” said Reiner Haseloff, Minister for Economic Affairs and Labor in Saxony-Anhalt. “This investment will not only benefit the regional economy – it will also strengthen Germany as a whole, because the company is also concentrating its research and development activities at the site. This will generate added value in the state and ensuring that the potential for innovation is leveraged even more efficiently.”
The LANXESS site in Bitterfeld is already equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and a first-rate infrastructure. “It was these excellent conditions and the planned partnerships with universities and colleges in the local area that gave Bitterfeld the edge over other sites, such as the ones in Spain and Singapore,” added Heitmann. The construction of the new plant goes hand in hand with an extensive research and development program that LANXESS is setting up at the site and in the local region.
“The fact that Bitterfeld has been chosen as the location for this project shows that Germany can hold its own as a business location in the face of tough international competition. This is due primarily to the country’s expertise and high-performance technologies. This investment is a further sign of our future commitment to both the chemical industry in Germany and our chemical site in Bitterfeld.” This year alone, LANXESS is planning to invest approximately EUR 150 million in its German sites, up slightly on investments in the previous year.
LANXESS invests in the water business
The new project in Bitterfeld is designed to further expand LANXESS strategic water treatment business. The global market for water treatment is estimated at between EUR 315 and 330 billion. The private Swiss bank Sarasin forecasts annual growth of 10 percent in this field.
“This year, the water business will start to play an increasingly important role in LANXESS’s operational activities. We are stepping up our global activities in this area considerably and seeking to leverage the potential that this market has to offer,” said Heitmann.
LANXESS is currently building another plant for ion exchange resins in Jhagadia, India, which is scheduled to be taken into operation later this year. On completion, it will be the most state-of-the-art plant of its kind in Asia. It will be used, among other things, to supply products for the production of ultrapure water for the semiconductor and pharmaceuticals industries, for industrial water treatment, for food production and for power generation. These new plants in Bitterfeld and Jhagadia represent LANXESS biggest-ever investment program in the water market.
In total, the Group is investing some EUR 50 million in the new site in Jhagadia. In addition to the facility for the production of ion exchange resins, the company is also constructing a plant for rubber chemicals. These projects will create 225 new jobs.
More than 70 years of experience in water treatment
With its high-quality Lewatit ion exchange resins, adsorbers and functional polymers, LANXESS has more than 70 years of experience and expertise as a one-stop supplier of premium products for water treatment.
At the LANXESS site in Bitterfeld, some 80 employees have been producing high-performance ion exchange resins for over 10 years through the subsidiary IAB Ionenaustauscher GmbH. This production facility for monodisperse technology is the largest and most cutting-edge of its kind in the world. The high-tech resins produced there are used in the fields of water treatment, power generation, microelectronics, and the drinking water and food preparation industries. The broad range of applications for these small beads of resin includes, for example, the decalcification or desalination of water in dishwashers and the decarbonization or extraction of heavy metals from drinking water in water filters. LANXESS produces Lewatit ion exchange resins at sites in both Bitterfeld and Leverkusen.
The Ion Exchange Resins (ION) business unit currently has a workforce of around 400 worldwide, of which some 300 are located in Germany. The ION business unit is part of LANXESS Performance Chemicals segment, which recorded sales of EUR 1,148 million in the first nine months of 2009.
LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 6.58 billion in 2008 and currently around 14,600 employees in 23 countries. The company is represented at 43 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.
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