MUNICH/ULSAN, South Korea – Wacker Chemie AG is expanding its existing production plants for polymer binders in South Korea. The Munich-based chemical company plans to build a new spray dryer for dispersible polymer powders at its Ulsan site. The dryer will have a total capacity of 80,000 metric tons per year. WACKER also plans to build a further reactor for dispersions based on vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (VAE). Its dispersions will be used in the spray dryer for the production of dispersible polymer powders. Thanks to the new reactor, Ulsan’s VAE dispersion capacity will more than double. Ulsan’s plant complex, which covers the entire product chain from VAE dispersions to dispersible polymer powders, will be one of the largest of its kind worldwide. Capital expenditures of around €60 million are budgeted for the capacity increase and for expanding local infrastructure. Scheduled to start before the end of the year, construction work is expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2019.

“Our investment in expanding our polymer-binder production facilities in Ulsan is a key step in our global growth strategy,” said Rudolf Staudigl, CEO of Wacker Chemie AG. “The additional capacity will strengthen our market position the world’s leading manufacturer of dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, and will help us meet our Asian customers’ continuously rising demand over the long term,” he emphasized.

Worldwide, megatrends such as urbanization, renovation and energy efficiency are stimulating demand for environmentally compatible dry-mix mortar products. This, in turn, is spurring demand from WACKER’s customers for high-quality dispersible polymer powders. WACKER therefore sees the current expansion as vital for reliably and enduringly meeting the market growth projected for the region. Alongside the new facilities, the group is also investing in the expansion and modernization of local infrastructure.

Dal-ho Cho, in charge of the Korean subsidiary Wacker Chemicals Korea, stressed the importance of the expansion program for Asian markets: “The new facilities will not only secure WACKER’s supply chain in South Korea in the years ahead, but will also enable us to supply first-class, locally manufactured products and solutions to our regional customers to meet their specific needs.” Utilizing the Ulsan site’s existing infrastructure, he added, would produce synergy effects in transportation and logistics.

WACKER already produces VINNAPAS® VAE dispersions at its Ulsan site. With over 60 years’ experience in the development and production of dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, WACKER is global technology and market leader in the field of vinyl-acetate-based copolymers and terpolymers. The binders are needed in sectors such as construction, paints, coatings and adhesives. They are also used in carpet applications, technical textiles and the coating of paper.

WACKER has been supplying chemicals to South Korea since the mid-1980s. In 1996, it set up Wacker Chemicals Korea as its subsidiary there. Since early 2008, WACKER’s site in Ulsan (southeastern Korea) has been producing VAE dispersions and providing local support to customers and partners through its technical center for research and applications engineering. In 2010, WACKER acquired the South Korean Lucky-Silicone brand – used mainly for producing and marketing silicone sealants for the construction sector. In 2012, WACKER moved to the Pangyo Techno Valley close to the capital, Seoul, where R&D, technical support and the WACKER ACADEMY, a training center, are housed under a single roof.