Lanxess Expands High-tech Plastics Production in USA
Specialty chemicals company Lanxess is expanding its Gastonia, North Carolina, compounding facility for high-tech plastics by adding a second production line. The expansion represents an investment volume of about $15 million and will double the existing capacity from 20,000 to 40,000 t/y. Construction for the second line is expected to commence in the second half of 2014 with production scheduled to begin in early 2016.
The Lanxess Gastonia facility produces the high-tech plastics Durethan (polyamide) and Pocan (polybutylene terephthalate), which allow automotive engineers to design lighter-weight plastic components to replace metal parts in cars, contributing to fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
"The United States is the leading market for high-tech plastics, with the automotive industry at the forefront," said Lanxess Corporation President and CEO Flemming B. Bjoernslev. "Automotive industry sales are at their highest level in almost ten years and by adding the second line in Gastonia, we are underlining our ongoing commitment to our customers."
Lightweight Automotive Construction Driving Demand for High-tech Plastics
A lightweight design can reduce weight by 10 to 50%, depending on the component. The growing demand for high-tech plastic applications is being driven by rising car production above all and the trend towards more fuel efficient automobiles. In the United States, the demand for high-tech plastics is expected to increase by roughly 7% per year through 2020.
Automotive manufacturers are working to meet CAFE standards that will require an average fleet-wide fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon be reached by 2025, an increase of approximately 5% every year for cars.
Plastic-metal hybrid front ends can be found today in more than 80 car models and in millions of vehicles around the world. Durethan and Pocan compounds are also being used in a wide variety of automotive parts such as body parts, oil pans, coolant pipes, battery housings, steering rods, pedals and pedal brackets.
Lanxess Expanding Global production for High-tech Plastics
The investment in North Carolina not only strengthens Lanxess' global high-tech plastics network but also further improves the balance of the company's overall polyamide value chain through using more caprolactam for captive use.
In July 2014, a high-tech polymerization plant in Antwerp, Belgium, started up. The world-scale facility is designed for an annual capacity of around 90,000 t/y and represents an investment volume of roughly $100 million. In addition, Lanxess recently opened a 20,000 t/y high-tech plastics plant in Porto Feliz, Brazil. Other compounding plants are in operation in Dormagen, Germany, Wuxi, China, and Jhagadia, India.