MUNICH – Wacker Chemie AG officially started up its new pilot reactor for vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (VAE) dispersions at its Nanjing site (Jiangsu province) in China. The company is also increasing its production capacities for HDK® pyrogenic silica in Germany.

The new pilot reactor will allow WACKER to expand its local research and development activities in China and to grow its regional portfolio of product development, application technology and customer services. The investment needed for the pilot reactor amounts to around €2.4 million. The group’s goals for the project is to meet growing demand in China and Asia for high-quality polymeric binders and to strengthen its position as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of VAE dispersions and dispersible polymer powders.

“Our objective is to work with our customers to develop first-class solutions adapted to local needs and, in that way, to contribute to WACKER’s growth going forward,” explained Peter Summo, President of WACKER POLYMERS. “WACKER is now one of the world’s few VAE manufacturers that can support customers in China from the development lab all the way up to large-scale production.”

The pilot reactor serves as a research facility for custom-made VAE dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, which go on to be used in the construction, adhesives and coatings industries, among others. The experienced local technical team, supported by the Technical Center Shanghai, can now cooperate even better with WACKER’s customers to develop first-class products with consistent high quality, optimize production processes and shorten developing periods. In this way, WACKER will be able to meet rising demand for high-grade polymeric binders in China and Asia, while continuing to grow its local expertise, application technology and customer service.

Located at WACKER’s fully integrated polymer site in Nanjing, this ultramodern facility is state of the art, as it is home to a completely automated monitoring and control system. WACKER already manufactures its VINNAPAS® VAE dispersions and dispersible polymer powders in Nanjing – products that are used, for example, for formulating high-quality adhesives, low-odor, environmentally-friendly interior paints and for energy-saving building solutions such as external thermal insulation composite systems. Other applications include tile adhesives, plasters, paper coatings, carpet applications and technical textiles.

Wacker Chemie AG also announced it is increasing its production capacities for HDK® pyrogenic silica. To this end, WACKER is expanding a hydrophobic silica specialties plant at its site in Burghausen, Germany. The plant’s capacity will rise by 40% as a result, with capital expenditures on the project amounting to €1.4 million. With work beginning early next year, project completion is expected in the third quarter of 2017.

Hydrophobic specialty silicas are used in toner powders for printers. They enhance the stability of the end product, as well as its flow and charging properties. Used in specialty adhesives and paints, these kinds of silicas permit optimum adjustment of rheological and mechanical properties.

“The expansion enables us to meet rising customer demand for high- quality specialties and tailored solutions from WACKER,” said Auguste Willems, WACKER Executive Board member. “This project is part of our strategy to achieve further profitable growth through cost-effective expansions at existing plants and to increase the proportion of specialties in our total business.”

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 powder-form amorphous silicon dioxide 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.