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.
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 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.
“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,” says Dal-Ho Cho, head of the Wacker Chemicals Korea subsidiary.