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2011-04-14

LANXESS announces additional expansion of high performance rubber production in Orange, Texas

  • Completion of debottlenecking project for 15,000 tons per year of Nd-PBR
  • Additional 20,000 tons per year of SSBR and Nd-PBR
  • HNBR capacity increases by 40 percent
  • Strong demand for high-performance rubber driven by the automotive market

During a ceremony celebrating the completion of a project that increases the manufacturing capacity for high performance rubber at its Orange, Texas, facility by 15,000 metric tons per year, LANXESS announced another capacity expansion at the site that will result in an additional 20,000 metric tons per year of solution styrene butadiene (SSBR) and neodymium polybutadiene (Nd-PBR) rubbers. This new capacity project, scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2012, represents a EUR 10 million investment.

The expansion completed today, which was announced in March last year, is part of a investment totalling EUR 20 million to increase production of Nd-PBR by 50,000 metric tons per annum in Orange, Dormagen, Germany, and Cabo, Brazil. The additional capacities in Germany and Brazil will be fully operational by the first quarter of 2012. These expansions will also lead to an indirect increase in SSBR capacities at the company’s site in Port Jérôme, France.

“This additional capacity will serve the global demand for high performance rubber, which is expected to grow annually by close to 10 percent in the coming years,” explained Dr. Joachim Grub, Global Head of Performance Butadiene Rubber, LANXESS AG. “Without this capacity expansion, there would be a worldwide product shortage for this type of material by 2014.”

The positive development of high performance rubber is being driven by the trend towards greater mobility – especially in Asia – as well as motorists, who are demanding higher environmental and safety standards in performance tires. Also driving demand is a European Union regulation that stipulates that, by November 2012, new tires sold in Europe must be labelled for fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise. Japanese tire manufacturers voluntarily introduced tire labelling at the start of 2010, and the U.S. is evaluating similar labelling regulations. The aim of these programs is to reduce CO2 and noise emissions by promoting green tires that do not compromise on safety, as well as aiding consumers in their purchase decisions.

LANXESS further displayed its commitment to the Orange facility in another capacity expansion project announced earlier this week. On Monday, the company announced that work had already begun to increase production of Hydrogenated Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (HNBR), marketed under the brand name Therban®, by 40 percent with expansions in Texas and Germany. LANXESS will invest a low single-digit million euro amount in the expansions that will create 15 new jobs, five of which will be in Orange.

Another investment in the site led to a new butadiene rail tank car unloading station being built. The station, which was completed in just six months, gives the site greater flexibility to receive butadiene; providing access to material that cannot be delivered via pipeline and strengthening the supply chain of a key raw material.

Both Nd-BR and SSBR belong to LANXESS’ Performance Butadiene Rubbers (PBR) business unit. Apart from tires, performance butadiene rubbers are used for plastics modification in the manufacture of High-Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) for injection molding applications, for example. Other areas of application include golf balls, shoe soles, conveyor and drive belts.

Therban®, which is part of LANXESS’ Technical Rubber Products (TRP) business unit, is used in the automotive industry for the manufacture of v-belts and toothed belts and for the stator/rotor systems of drill heads in the oil extraction industry. The HNBR market is currently growing globally at a double-digit annual rate. This is also due in particular to a strong global demand from automotive manufacturers, especially in China and India.

PBR and TRP are both part of LANXESS’ Performance Polymers segment, which achieved total sales of EUR 3.78 billion in 2010.

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LANXESS Corporation

111 RIDC Park West Drive

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15275-1112

Phone: +1 412-809-1000

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