AkzoNobel Expands Swedish Silica Capacity

12.12.2017 -

The Specialty Chemicals business of Dutch coatings specialist AkzoNobel plans to spend more than €4 million to increase production capacity for its patented surface-modified colloidal silica in Sweden.

The upgrade at the Bohus facility near Gothenburg is expected to be completed by late 2018.

Akzo said the addition of output capability for its Levasil CC-branded silica is aimed at meeting growing customer demand and will strengthen the company's market leadership position. The product is designed to enhance and improve key functionalities of other products and manufacturing processes.

Principal markets for colloidal silica include electronics, coatings, construction and catalysts, as well as batteries. Akzo’s Specialty Chemicals business segment – which has been put up for sale – operates production facilities on three continents: in Asia in Taiwan and China; in Europe in Germany and Sweden; and in the Americas in the US and Brazil.

Ann Lindgärde, director of the Levasil Colloidal Silica business, said Akzo is experiencing growing demand from markets such as coatings, where Levasil CC supports producers in the switch from solvent-borne to waterborne coatings.  Lindgärde said demand for the silica is expected to continue growing as the business develops new applications.

Niek Stapel, managing director of Pulp and Performance Chemicals, said that more than half of the Dutch company’s colloidal silica revenue comes from Eco-Premium products, which offer more sustainability benefits compared to other products.

In other news, AkzoNobel has agreed to continue its R&D collaboration with Italian bioplastics firm Bio-on after the two worked together on the Synergistic Fouling Control Technologies (SEAFRONT) project funded by the 7th Framework program of the European Commission.

The companies will continue to jointly investigate the use of Bio-on's biodegradable and bio-based polymers as components in fouling control coatings. These are designed to prevent the undesirable accumulation of marine organisms on boats, ships, tidal power plants and other aquatic installations. The Dutch coatings producer is regarded as a global leader in the marine, protective coatings, and yacht markets.

The SEAFRONT project began in 2014 and ends at the end of 2017. As part of the research, a consortium of 19 companies and scientific institutes worked together to find anti-fouling solutions.