Leverkusen - Specialty chemicals company LANXESS is expanding cresol production at the Leverkusen site once again. It plans to further increase capacity for this high-quality intermediate for the global market by some 20 percent by mid 2013. Among other applications, cresols are widely used in the manufacture of vitamin E, resins and flame retardants and in the agrochemicals sector.
“This investment of around EUR 20 million in extending this facility is another clear statement by LANXESS highlighting the company's commitment to Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia as an industrial location,” said Werner Breuers, member of the board of management of LANXESS AG. “We expect sustainable market growth with cresols and have aligned our long-term planning to this.”
The expansion is part of the business unit's long-term asset strategy. “To be able to hold on to our world market position in the future, it will be necessary to consistently continue increasing our productivity. That's why in the near future we want to boost the capacities of other high-grade intermediates too,” added Hubert Fink, head of the Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit. “This will enable us to share in the growth of our customers and meet their demand for reliable delivery even more effectively.”
In the first expansion step completed in 2010, the company invested around EUR 35 million in the aromatics network, increasing capacities by up to 60 percent.
The aromatics network: a complex of facilities with more than 60 products
The LANXESS aromatics network comprises a total of seven large-scale plants – mostly in Leverkusen, Germany – with further finishing stages in Krefeld-Uerdingen, Dormagen and Brunsbüttel. The starting basis for the aromatics network comprises the petrochemical raw materials benzene and toluene, which are further processed through a variety of chemical reaction steps into a diversity of high-quality intermediates. These products – more than 60 of them in total – play a major role in all areas of everyday life. They are used worldwide as key starting materials for, for example, active ingredients for pharmaceuticals and crop protection products, perfumes and flavorings, and also for polymers, paper chemicals, surface coatings and pigments.
In addition, the Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit produces innovative stabilizers that provide the resource-conserving fuel biodiesel with the storage stability that is needed to make it available to the consumer. High-quality intermediates from the aromatics network are also used as antioxidants for rubber to increase the mileage of tires and thus save drivers money. Modern information technology would also be difficult to imagine without products from the aromatics network. In resins, they play an important role in the production of mobile phones and computers. Products from the aromatics network also find their way into the production of vitamin E, which is used, among other things, as an additive in animal feedstuffs, and for the production of menthol. Menthol is an important component of many aroma chemicals in the field of oral hygiene and chewing gum. It is also contained in many pharmaceutical products – such as are used, for example, to cool painful injuries.
Some 500 LANXESS employees work in the unique structure of the aromatics network, which manufactures and globally markets nearly 300,000 metric tons of high-quality intermediates a year. The particular advantage of this integrated plant network is that in Leverkusen all the facilities are connected to each other via pipeline systems, leading to improved logistics and significant productivity advantages over competitors. The German plants in Dormagen, Krefeld and Brunsbüttel are connected via rail and road transport. In addition to the materials network, the energy network also plays a major role in optimizing the deployment of energy.
Modern technologies with aromatic compounds
Through the use of modern technologies in the field of aromatic compounds, LANXESS is in a position to use, process or market nearly all the molecules that are formed during the chemical processes. “Thanks to special catalysts, we have the technical capacity to control many reactions in such a way that almost only marketable, high-grade intermediates are formed,” explained Fink. “In the marketing of these products, we can build on a global sales network and make full use of our wealth of industry know-how. This in-depth knowledge of the market is the basis for our success in global marketing.”
The Advanced Industrial Intermediates business unit belongs to the Advanced Intermediates segment, which achieved total sales in fiscal 2010 of EUR 1,321 million.
LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 16,100 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 47 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.
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