In particular, Arlanxeo aims to increase the flexibility of production of its polybutadiene rubber (PBR) facility in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul.
The Brazilian plant currently produces emulsion styrene-butadiene rubber (ESBR), which is mainly used in passenger car and truck tires.
The upgrade, which is expected to complete in the second half of 2020, will add production of more advanced PBR types Nd-BR (neodymium butadiene rubber) and lithium butadiene rubber (Li-BR) for tire and non-tire applications.
The Investment, said Arlanxeo, was prompted by growing demand from local tire manufacturers for high performance tires - driven in part by the introduction of tire labelling regulations in late 2016.
The labelling regulation requires all new tires produced in Brazil to be rated on rolling resistance, grip on wet track, and external noise.
This, according to Arlanxeo, has driven the use of Nd-BR in tires, which significantly improves tire performance, resulting in lower fuel consumption and better wet grip.
The company is, at the same time, relocating part of its existing ESBR production in Triunfo to its facility in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro, where ESBR is already produced.
“This investment highlights our commitment to Brazil and the long-term importance of the Brazilian market for our high-performance rubbers, especially in the tire segment,” said Matthias Gotta, head of Arlanxeo’s Tire & Specialty Rubbers business unit.
In La Wantzenau, France, Arlanxeo is modernising production site in addition to regular maintenance. The site is said by the company to be the world’s largest nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) facility.
“This investment lays the foundation for further targeted growth of our NBR speciality rubber grades as an important part of our rubber portfolio,” said Christian Widdershoven, head of the High Performance Elastomers business unit.
Arlanxeo said it expects global demand for its NBR rubbers to increase in the coming years.