Wacker Expands Dispersions Capacity in South Korea
Germany’s Wacker Chemie is doubling production capacity for vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) dispersions in South Korea. The Munich-based company will add another reactor at Ulsan for the dispersions, which will be used in a new spray dryer producing dispersible polymer powders. The dryer will have an annual capacity of 80,000 t.
Construction is scheduled to start by the end of this year and should be finished by the first quarter of 2019. The project, together with an expansion and modernization of local infrastructure, is expected to cost around €60 million.
Wacker said that as a result of the project, the Ulsan complex, which covers the entire product chain from VAE dispersions to dispersible polymer powders, will be one of the largest of its kind in the world.
“The additional capacity will strengthen our market position as the world’s leading manufacturer of dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, and will help us meet our Asian customers’ continuously rising demand over the long term,” said CEO Rudolf Staudigl, adding that the investment was a key step in the group’s global growth strategy.
According to Wacker, megatrends such as urbanization, renovation and energy efficiency are stimulating consumption of environmentally compatible dry-mix mortar products, which in turn are spurring demand for its dispersible polymer powders. The powders, or binders, are used in construction, paints, coatings and adhesives.
The company is also spending around €25 million to add another dispersion reactor at Burghausen, Germany. The 60,000 t/y facility is scheduled for completion before the end of 2017.
In separate news, Wacker said that an investigation was underway to determine the root cause of an explosion at its complex in Charleston, Tennessee, USA, on Sept. 7. A technical defect prompted a leak of hydrogen, which caught fire and severely damaged part of the plant. Two people were injured in the incident. The company added that it was cooperating with authorities to ensure that operations could resume safely.