Leverkusen/Sittard-Geleen - LANXESS is investing EUR 12 million to convert 50 percent of its ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) synthetic rubber production in Geleen, the Netherlands, to innovative Keltan ACE technology. During 2013, the German specialty chemicals 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 metric tons per year in Geleen.
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 set up a new headquarters in Geleen for its global EPDM Rubber business. The building for up to 120 employees will be constructed on the chemical industrial site Chemelot. The contracts with the Chemelot Campus Consortium were signed today. Construction will start in the spring of 2012, and inauguration is planned for the beginning of 2013.
“The sustainable Keltan ACE technology, our new and highly modern headquarters for our EPDM business and the highly innovative environment of the Chemelot Campus will help us on our course of expansion,” said Axel C. Heitmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of LANXESS AG. “The planned measures will make the Geleen site a true center of innovation within the global LANXESS network.”
LANXESS steers its global business with EPDM rubber from Geleen. In May 2011, LANXESS acquired the EPDM rubber business of Royal DSM N.V. for EUR 310 million, with 420 employees worldwide – including 260 in Sittard-Geleen.
“The integration process of the new EPDM business into LANXESS is running smoothly and is already contributing very positively to group earnings,“ said Guenther Weymans, LANXESS Country Head for the Netherlands and Head of the Technical Rubber Products business unit.
EPDM is used above all in the automobile industry but also in the plastics modification, cable and wire, construction and oil additives industries. Its properties include very low density, good resistance to heat, oxidation, chemicals and weathering as well as good electrical insulation properties.
Last week, LANXESS announced that it 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 rubber in the world and will be sold under the brand name Keltan Eco. EPDM is conventionally produced using the petroleum-based raw materials ethylene and propylene. Alternatively, LANXESS plans to use ethylene derived purely from the renewable resource sugar cane. This bio-based form of ethylene is produced by dehydrating ethanol from Brazilian sugar cane. The company Braskem S.A. will supply the bio-based ethylene via pipeline to LANXESS’ existing EPDM plant in Triunfo, Brazil.
Triunfo currently produces 40,000 metric tons per year of regular EPDM rubber and it is expected that the first batches of the product Keltan Eco will amount to several hundred metric tons.
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