LANXESS expands global production capacity for high-tech plastics

09 March 2011 15:58  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Germany-based specialty chemical company LANXESS said on Wednesday that it will expand its global production capacity for high-tech plastics as a result of growing demand, driven mainly by rising car production and the trend towards lighter automobiles.

The group said global demand for high-tech plastics is expected to increase by roughly 7%/year until 2020.

As part of the expansion drive, LANXESS has broken ground on its first high-tech plastics compounding facility in Gastonia, North Carolina, in the US, which will have an initial capacity of 20,000 tonnes/year.

“The US is the largest market for high-tech plastics, with the automotive industry at the forefront. It is here that increased CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) fuel efficiency standards are driving demand for these advanced materials,” said LANXESS board member Werner Breuers.

Construction of the facility, which will involve an initial investment of €10m ($14m), is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2011 and production is scheduled to begin in 2012, LANXESS said.

Additionally, LANXESS and US chemical company DuPont's joint venture, DuBay Polymer, will invest an additional €10m to double the capacity of its polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounding facility in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany.

Production at the PBT plant, which has a nameplate capacity of 80,000 tonnes/year, as assessed by ICIS, is scheduled to begin in 2012.

“This capital investment is the two partners’ response to the mounting worldwide demand for PBT compounds,” said Michael Zobel, head of the semi-crystalline products business unit at LANXESS.

“This growth is being driven by the global automotive and electrical/electronic industries, where sales of these high-performance thermoplastics are growing not only organically but also as a result of the many new and innovative applications,” he added.

LANXESS has made a series of investments over the past 12 months in its global high-tech plastics network.

In January, LANXESS invested €10m in a new 20,000 tonne/year compounding facility in Jhagadia, India. Production of polyamide and PBT high-tech plastics are expected to start at the plant in early 2012.

The company is also investing €10m to expand capacities at its compounding plant for high-tech plastics at Wuxi, China, by nearly 50%, to approximately 60,000 tonnes/year by mid-2011, it added.

LANXESS said these investments had strengthened its global market position for its high-tech plastics, Durethan and Pocan.

The company also announced in January 2010 that it will go ahead with a €35m expansion of its Antwerp, Belgium caprolactam (capro) capacity after the economic downturn put the project on hold.

The engineering plastics producer intends to increase the capacity of the plant by 10% to around 220,000 tonnes/year of capro, which is needed mainly for the manufacture of thermoplastic polyester polyamide 6. It will also increase KA oil (a mixture of cyclohexanone and cyclohexanol) capacity by 25% to 150,000 tonnes/year by the summer of 2011.

($1 = €0.72)

For more on LANXESS visit ICIS company intelligence

By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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