The Munich-based WACKER Group has started to build a liquid resins unit at its Nünchritz site. This unit will supply key upstream products for formulating silicone-based building-protection agents and binders for exterior paints and industrial coatings. At the moment, only WACKER’s Burghausen site produces these substances. Scheduled to go on stream at the end of 2022, the new unit will close important material loops and so further increase the cost-effectiveness of WACKER’s integrated production system. Capital spending amounts to some €30M.
WACKER uses silanes and liquid resins to formulate several speciality silicone grades: building-protection agents and concrete protection creams contain these kinds of hydrophobic and, hence, water-repellent active ingredients, as do binders for exterior paints, corrosion-resistant protective coatings and heat-resistant powder paints. The company currently produces these additives at its liquid resins plant in Burghausen, where side-stream products resulting from the manufacture of silicones react with alcohol to become silanes and liquid resins. The Burghausen and Nünchritz sites process these substances into silicone products for construction and coating applications.
WACKER now plans to manufacture these formulation ingredients in Nünchritz too. The foundations for a new liquid resins unit are now being laid in the northern part of the site. This unit will be able to process products obtained from the synthesis of methylchlorosilanes. “The decision to extend the production of silanes and liquid resins to Nünchritz enables us to respond with even greater flexibility to customer needs,” said WACKER’s Executive Board member Auguste Willems.
The investment benefits both the Nünchritz site and the integrated production system in Burghausen. Due to high demand for building protection agents and coatings the liquid resins plant in Burghausen has been running at full capacity. “The new unit in Nünchritz closes material loops and increases the availability of key intermediates. This enhances our supply security throughout our integrated production system,” explained Willems. “The new setup offers us far more opportunities for supporting current market developments and for establishing production lines for new products if justified by demand.”
In recent years, a healthy construction sector and demand for high quality industrial coatings have meant that more and more silicone-based construction materials and binders need to be supplied. “Our specialities business is highly profitable,” said Dr Robert Gnann, Head of WACKER’s silicones division. “It is still too early to talk about capacity expansions exceeding this measure. But one thing is certain: the investment is an important basis for future growth. The expansion shows that we are determined to strengthen and further expand our market position in the building-protection and coating sectors.”
The liquid resins plant is located on the site of a former tank farm not far from where a hybrid polymer facility is under construction. As already announced, this facility will produce silane-terminated hybrid polymer binders for high-performance adhesives starting late next year.
“It was important for us to integrate the new liquid resins unit into the existing surroundings and to use the infrastructure there in the best possible way,” said Nünchritz Site Manager Dr Jutta Matreux who is delighted that Nünchritz had been chosen for the investment. “Both the liquid resins plant and the hybrid polymer facility greatly enhance the site’s status in terms of the integrated production system operated by WACKER Silicones. That also helps us to secure jobs.” Thanks to the investment measures, WACKER is able to create around 50 new production-related jobs at its Nünchritz site.