London -- Lanxess is developing new grades of functionalised rubber to deliver improved performance in both the tyre and non-tyre industry. In addition, the company has announced a series of capacity expansions designed both to keep pace with growing demand and to serve niche markets with specialised grades.
In butyl rubber the company has said capacity is likely to expand to around 380 kt/year by 2010.This is made up of previously announced expansions at Antwerp and Sarnia to a combined total of 265 kt/year and a further 15 kt/year of debottlenecking bringing total capacity of the two plants to 280 kt, due on stream in late 2009, with full production achieved in 2010. Dr Joachim Grub, head of polybutadiene rubber ? but speaking on behalf of the butyl business ? noted that once this capacity is reached the two plants will be similar in capacity, though Sarnia will be larger by a small margin.
In addition, the company said its proposed world-scale plant in Asia is likely to have capacity around 100kt/year for halobutyl production. That plant is in the late stages of planning, with negotiations reaching their final stages in three separate locations. Dr Axel Heitmann, chief executive, said the final decision is likely to be made before the end of this year. He added that the new plant would be for halobutyl rubber.
In further capacity increases, Dr GÃ¼nther Weymans, head of the technical rubber products unit, said the company is currently expanding production of EPDM at its two facilities in Marl, Germany and Orange, Texas to a combined production of 140 kt, from a nominal 120 kt previously. He cautioned that the company is increasing its range of grades, and this has implications for nominal plant capacity. Weymans said that any capacities Lanxess gives out reflect achievable output under real-world grade mixes, rather than maximum achievable capacity on artificially limited grade mixes.
Lanxess also plans to make a small change in its reporting structure. The former Engineering plastics division is being disbanded following the disposal of two large businesses in that segment. The remaining business unit from that grouping ? semi-crystalline products ?Â will be grouped with the rubber polymers and the name changed to Performance Polymers.