Degussa’s ambitious Aerosil® investment projects in Leverkusen and in Roussillon, France, are making good progress

Degussa AG, Düsseldorf, is appreciably expanding its production capacity for the pyrogenic silica Aerosil®. Currently, two new plants are under construction in Leverkusen on the grounds of Bayer AG in that city and in Roussillon, France, on the grounds of Rhodia Silicones S.A.S. The two plants will probably start their regular production in the middle of 2002. ”Our total Aerosil capacity will then be increased by several thousand metric tons a year,“ stresses Degussa executive vice president Carl Voigt. Both plants are state-of-the-art, and, in addition, are integrated in the raw material network at the sites. With these investments, Degussa adds about 40 new jobs. The plant in Leverkusen is located on an approx. 4,000 square meter lot right along the river Rhine. A contract with GE Bayer Silicones GmbH & Co. KG, a joint venture between General Electric Company and Bayer AG for production of silicone products, secures the at site consumption of Aerosil® for the production of sealants and elastomers. Both, the Leverkusen plant and the production in Roussillon are integrated in the respective production networks at site. Thus, both plants promote ecological advantages at their respective sites, because they substantially reduce the number of Silane shipments and also help close the hydrochloric acid cycle. In Roussillon, a contract with Rhodia silicones regulates the supply of Aerosil® into this French manufacturer’s silicone production. The plant is operated by Aerosil France SARL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Degussa France. As a world leading manufacturer of pyrogenic silicas, which the business unit Aerosil & Silanes sells under the trade name Aerosil®, Degussa operates plants in Rheinfelden (Germany), Antwerp (Belgium), Mobile and Waterford in the USA and Yokkaichi in Japan, and in the future, also in Leverkusen and in Roussillon. Aerosil® is a pyrogenic (fumed) silica, i.e., a silica manufactured in a high-tech combustion process. Different particle sizes of this white powder are achieved by the precise adjustment and control of a large number of process parameters. Depending on applications, Aerosils are produced in different particle sizes. The individual Aerosil grades are distinguished by their surface area in meters squared per gram (there are standard types ranging from 90 to 380 m2/g). In silicone rubber and sealants, Aerosil® is used as a reinforcing filler. It also helps to achieve the correct consistency of paints as well as adhesives, etc., thus enabling for instance the manufacture of non-dripping paints. Further, Aerosil® is used in pharmaceuticals and in the manufacture of cosmetics. In high-temperature applications, it is used for insulation. The microchip industry uses Aerosil® as an ultrafine polishing agent.

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