ULSAN, South Korea — Following a construction phase lasting 20 months, Wacker Chemie AG has brought a new spray dryer for the production of dispersible polymer powders on stream in Ulsan, South Korea. The plant is part of an ongoing site expansion aimed at boosting the company’s production capacity for dispersions and dispersible polymer powders in Asia.
WACKER is a world-leading producer of polymeric dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, which are important ingredients in the manufacture of building materials. Construction is currently booming in Asia. Growing just as strongly is the demand for high-quality, energy-efficient, sustainable construction solutions. This has prompted the group to invest in the region and expand its production capacity for dispersions and dispersible polymer powders in South Korea. The commissioning of the new spray dryer represents a major milestone in the company’s expansion plans for its Ulsan site.
WACKER already produces vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (VAE) dispersions in Ulsan. The new spray dryer converts liquid dispersions into dispersible polymer powder by feeding them through an atomizer into a stream of hot gas, which dries them extremely quickly to yield a fine powder. The new plant will have a total capacity of 80,000 metric tons per year. On completion, the spray dryer will be one of the two largest of this kind in the world. The second plant with this capacity is located at WACKER’s Burghausen, Germany, site. The new spray dryer will create some 50 new jobs in Ulsan.
Construction is also underway in Ulsan on a further reactor for VAE dispersions, the feedstock for dispersible polymer powders. The reactor is scheduled for start-up in the first quarter of 2020. Overall capital expenditure on the plant complex, spanning the full production chain from VAE dispersions through to dispersible polymer powders, will come to some 65 million euros.
“Our binders not only enhance the properties of building materials but also make construction activities more resource-efficient,” said Peter Summo, head of the WACKER POLYMERS division. “The new plant in Ulsan will help us serve the growing market in Asia and additionally shorten our delivery routes and times.”
The dispersible polymer powders that WACKER produces in Ulsan belong to the VINNAPAS® family, one of the group’s best-known brands. The new spray dryer will be used to produce VINNAPAS 5010 N and VINNAPAS 5044 N, for instance. These binders are needed in the construction industry to formulate high-quality tile adhesives, mineral plasters, self-leveling flooring compounds, energy-saving external thermal insulation composite systems (ETICS/EIFS), building adhesives, smoothing compounds and joint fillers, for example.
“By expanding our production capacity, we are boosting Ulsan’s economic competitiveness and ensuring that it will remain the first point of contact for regional manufacturers of building materials seeking to optimize their products with dispersible polymer powders,” said Dal-Ho Cho, head of the Wacker Chemicals Korea subsidiary.