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Evonik Building New Silica Plant Near Major Us Tyre Companies in the US

10 Jun 2015

Evonik Industries announced that it would be building a new precipitated silica plant in the US. The plant would cater to the tyre industry and concentrate on the production of high-grade precipitated silica. The exact location of the new plant is not sure, but it is expected to be in the Southeast United States and close to existing tyre manufacturing centres. The company already has a plant in Chester, Pennsylvania (USA) and it is producing a substantial amount of precipitated silica. Evonik will be expanding the Chester plant as well. With the new plant and the Chester plant’s expanded production, the company expects to ramp up production to 20,000 metric tons of silica per year. The Head of Evonik’s silica manufacturing branch, Andreas Fischer, stated that they had been planning an extension for a very long time. By expanding their silica plants, the company could produce an almost 30% increase in precipitated silica by 2016. The Need for Silica To get better gas mileage and smoother drives, engineers have been modifying tyre polymers for some time now. Originally carbon black was used to make tyres. Engineers discovered that they could reduce friction and rolling resistance by adding silica to the rubber polymer mix instead of carbon black. Now silica is one of the main ingredients in tyre polymers. However, ordinary beach sand or silica was not effective as it reduced durability in the end. Michelin eventually came up with a proprietary mix of silica that reduced rolling resistance, but maintained durability and strength.

Although every company has its own silica formula, they do have to source their raw silica from a silica manufacturer. Evonik produces a special silica-silane combination that is particularly effective in tyre making. This combination seems to produce tyres that reduce rolling resistance and increase fuel savings up to 8%. As a result, the need for Evonik’s proprietary mix of precipitated silica is high, and it is used by tyre manufacturers all over the world. By expanding their manufacturing, Evonik can meet worldwide demand and help in the formation of fuel-conserving tyres as well.

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Evonik is an international company with more than 33,000 employees worldwide. At the time of writing, the company was active in more than 100 countries, and posted annual sales of more than $14.1 billion. The company has not released details on its investment in the new plant, but numbers are expected to be in the double-digit million Euro range. The new manufacturing plant is expected to start producing by late 2017 and this will add to the company’s annual bottom-line.

Besides precipitated silica, Evonik manufactures special AEROSIL fumed silica and silica-based matting agents using the name ACEMATT and these products will also be manufactured at the new plant. The company produces almost 550,000 metric tons of silica per year, but this amount will almost double when both new plants actively start producing. With its two manufacturing plants, Evonik is looking forward to being the biggest producer of precipitated silica in North America.

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