Growing Demand, Tyre Labelling Prompts Lanxess to Boost Nd-PBR Capacity
Some 20 million euros are to be invested in increasing production of Neodymium Polybutadiene (Nd-PBR) rubber at Lanxess’s sites at Dormagen in Germany, Orange (Texas), USA and Cabo in Brazil. In total, 50,000 additional tonnes of the high-performance rubber will be manufactured at the three sites once the extra capacities go on stream between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.
According to Lanxess, the additional capacity will serve global demand for Nd-PBR, which is expected to grow by close to ten per cent per annum in the coming years. Without this capacity expansion, the specialty chemicals manufacturer believes a worldwide product shortage for this type of material would occur by 2014. “Demand is being fed by the trend towards greater mobility – especially in Asia – as well as motorists, who are demanding higher environmental and safety standards in performance tyres,” reported Lanxess in a statement.
A further factor Lanxess mentions in connection with the need to boost capacity is the recently approved European Union regulation stipulating the labelling of new tyres with fuel efficiency, wet grip and rolling resistance information by November 2012. Tyre makers in Japan are voluntarily introducing tyre labels from the beginning of 2010, while the USA is also evaluating similar labelling regulations. “Lanxess welcomes the new tyre labelling regulations, which are a positive example of how environmental policies can benefit consumers and spur economic success,” said Axel C. Heitmann, chairman of the Lanxess AG Board of Management. “The initiative will also ultimately lead to more innovation within the chemical and tyre industries.” Lanxess says it expects the new regulation to bring a lasting, positive boost to its Nd-PBR sales. The product, a tyre compound component, is said to reduce energy consumption more efficiently than many other tyre rubbers and also reduces tyre abrasion.
The capacity expansions will be achieved through standard debottlenecking procedures. At the same time, Lanxess intends to “harmonise production processes and technology” at all its high-performance rubber plants around the world. The expansions will also lead to an indirect increase in Solution Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SSBR) capacities at the company’s site in Port Jérôme, France. Additionally Lanxess says it is adjusting processes at its site in Orange, Texas, to facilitate the production of SSBR rubbers such as those used in the tread mix for high-performance tyres.