Brazil chosen for Evonik’s latest silica plant
Evonik Industries is building its first highly dispersible (precipitated) silica plant in South America. The company announced on 21 July that it will invest a “mid-double-digit million euro amount” in a facility located in Americana, within Brazil’s São Paulo state. No word has been given on the greenfield site’s anticipated output tonnage when it goes on stream in 2016 or when full capacity is reached. The silica produced will mainly be used in the production of low rolling resistance tyres, however Evonik says that by building the plant it will also cater for the needs of the growing regional business in attractive specialty segments in South America’s food, animal feed, and agricultural industries.
“With this investment in Brazil, we are positioning ourselves as an innovative provider of advanced inorganic materials for resource-conserving applications in the important South American market,” said Patrik Wohlhauser, Executive Board member and chief operating officer of Evonik Industries. Dr. Johannes Ohmer, head of Evonik’s Inorganic Materials Business Unit, added: “The new plant in Americana will enable us to offer our Brazilian and regional customers high-quality silicas from local production in combination with our outstanding services. This consolidates our leading global market position.”
Upon announcing the new plant, Evonik notes that vehicle sales in South America have increased considerably over the past few years, while the market for low rolling resistance tyres is growing much more strongly than that for conventional tyres. Evonik also expects additional demand for low rolling resistance tyres when Brazil’s planned tyre label is rolled out – and this is good news for Evonik, which according to Ohmer is “the only manufacturer that offers both components (silica in combination with silanes) and are thus a competent partner for high performance tyre compounds for our customers in the tyre and rubber industries.”
Evonik’s global silica capacities are expanding: By the end of 2014, they will have grown by around 30 per cent compared to 2010, an increase being aided by the scheduled 2014 start of operations at the company’s 20,000 tonne capacity precipitated silica plant in Chester (USA). The company’s projects in North and South America follow expansions that have already been completed in Europe and Asia. A production plant extension was completed in Thailand in March this year, for example.
In addition to precipitated silica, Evonik Industries also produces the fumed silica Aerosil and silica-based matting agents under the Acematt brand. In total, Evonik has a worldwide annual capacity of about 550,000 tonnes of precipitated and fumed silicas and matting agents.