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Thursday, 19 September 2019
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Markets & companies, Raw materials market

Wacker builds new pyrogenic silica plant in the USA

Friday, 16 December 2016

Wacker Chemie AG will build a new production plant for its "HDK" brand of pyrogenic silica at its Charleston site in the US state of Tennessee.

Distillation columns at the Charleston site in the US state of Tennessee. Source: Wacker

Distillation columns at the Charleston site in the US state of Tennessee. Source: Wacker

The new facility, with an annual capacity of about 13,000 metric tons, is anticipated to involve capital expenditure of some EUR144 million. Construction work will start in the second quarter of next year, with completion planned for the first half of 2019.

Meeting the growing demand

"The additional capacities strengthen our market position as a leading global producer of pyrogenic silica and help us to meet our customers’ growing demand,” said Wacker CEO Dr. Rudolf Staudigl. "The new plant is the next logical step toward expanding Charleston into a fully integrated silicon site in the world’s second-largest chemical market,” he explained, underscoring the investment’s strategic importance.

Reprocessing of tetrachlorosilane

The new facility is a key addition to the Charleston site’s supply chain. The main byproduct of polysilicon manufacturing is tetrachlorosilane, which either has to be converted and fed back into the production loop or can be used to create added value by being further processed into HDK®. By integrating the polysilicon and "HDK" production systems, as already operated at its Burghausen and Nünchritz sites in Germany, Wacker achieves maximum flexibility in the reprocessing of tetrachlorosilane, avoids the need to dispose of waste products, and thereby enhances the efficiency of the integrated production system as a whole.

Use as rheology-control additive in paints

Wacker produces HDK pyrogenic silica at Burghausen and Nünchritz in Germany and Zhangjiagang in China. The Munich-based chemical company is the world’s third-largest manufacturer in this sector. Ultrapure amorphous silicon dioxide powder is used as a filler in silicone elastomers and as a rheology-control additive in paints, adhesives, unsaturated polyester resins and plastisols. It also serves as a flow aid in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food-processing industries.

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