MUNICH, Germany/BURGHAUSEN, Germany – WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, the life sciences and biotechnology division of the WACKER Group, is strengthening its integrated ketene production at its Burghausen site in Germany. The Munich-based chemical company is building a reactor for the manufacture of isopropenyl acetate (IPA) with an annual capacity of 2,500 metric tons. IPA is an important starting material for acetylacetone (AcAc), which is used in numerous applications, ranging from life sciences products through to construction and automotive applications. Capital expenditures of almost €2 million are budgeted for the capacity increase. Completion of the plant is scheduled for the second half of 2017. In addition, WACKER is taking over the sales and distribution of the fine chemical calcium acetylacetonate from Acetonate GmbH as of April. This derivative of AcAc will round out the existing integrated ketene production system in Burghausen.

“The new IPA reactor is an important step toward strengthening our integrated ketene production system in Burghausen,” said WACKER Board Member Auguste Willems. “The expansion is part of our strategy of raising the proportion of specialties in our business as a whole to boost growth and profitability. This measure, together with the sales and distribution partnership we have entered into with Acetonate GmbH, will strengthen our position as a leading manufacturer of fine chemicals across a wide variety of sectors – from pharmaceutical products through to industrial applications in the plastics sector.”

The new plant is a key addition to the Burghausen site’s supply chain. In the integrated production system, acetic acid is converted first into ketene, then into isopropenyl acetate and finally to acetylacetone. Both IPA and AcAc serve as building blocks for syntheses in numerous branches of industry, from pharmaceutical active ingredients through to specialty automotive coatings. Additionally, AcAc is a starting material for further products in the WACKER portfolio.

To further strengthen the integrated production system and the degree of forward integration, WACKER is also, as of April, taking over distribution of calcium acetylacetonate (Ca-AcAc), a fine chemical made by Acetonate GmbH in Greiz, eastern Germany. Acetonate GmbH will continue to produce Ca-AcAc on behalf of WACKER, but with WACKER taking charge of sales and distribution of the entire annual production volume of around 900 metric tons.

“This strategic cooperation will enable us to offer even greater security of supply, in addition to excellent product quality, for our customers, especially those in Europe, because we now cover the entire supply chain for calcium acetylacetonate,” said Gerhard Schmid, Divisional President of WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, describing the collaboration.