LANXESS AG is building a new chemical plant at its site in Bitterfeld, Germany. This marks the specialty chemicals group’s move into a new segment of the water treatment business. The company is investing a total of around EUR 30 million in this pioneering project. LANXESS plans to develop and produce membrane filtration technology in Bitterfeld. The State of Saxony-Anhalt is sponsoring this project by up to EUR 6 million. In the long term, this project will create 200 new jobs at the Bitterfeld site.
The new plant is scheduled to be taken into operation for a pilot and development phase towards the end of this year. As things stand today, the first products should be launched on the market in 2011. An area totaling some 4,000 square meters has been set aside for the creation of high-tech laboratories, logistics areas, offices and a new, state-of-the-art production facility.
The membrane technology is used to filter out unwanted substances from water. The membrane’s chemical composition and structure make it possible to filter out substances such as nitrates, pesticides, herbicides, viruses, bacteria and the smallest particles. As the water passes through the filter, this filter extracts suspended particles and other unwanted substances. In other words, membranes form a selective barrier. By moving into this new field of technology, the Group is opening up further areas of application in water treatment. The volume of the global membrane market alone is currently estimated at around EUR 1 billion, and this figure is set to rise further.
“Usable water supplies are dwindling worldwide, thus becoming an increasingly valuable resource. Thanks to LANXESS’ pioneering investment in Bitterfeld, we are now able to offer additional products for water treatment and thus further strengthen our strong market position,” explained Axel C. Heitmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of LANXESS AG, at a groundbreaking ceremony held on Thursday in Bitterfeld. “Our high-tech products, such as the powerful Lewatit ion exchange resins, are already helping to ease global water problems today.”
The LANXESS site in Bitterfeld is already equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and a first-rate infrastructure. “It was these excellent conditions and the planned partnerships with universities and colleges in the local area that gave Bitterfeld the edge over other sites, such as the ones in Spain and Singapore,” added Heitmann. The construction of the new plant goes hand in hand with an extensive research and development program that LANXESS is setting up at the site and in the local region.
The new project in Bitterfeld is designed to further expand LANXESS strategic water treatment business. The global market for water treatment is estimated at between EUR 315 and 330 billion. The private Swiss bank Sarasin forecasts annual growth of 10 percent in this field.