Lanxess to mothball pilot plants; tests on new butyl rubber process successful

Over the past seven years, speciality chemicals company Lanxess worked on a fundamentally new technology for a more sustainable production of butyl rubber. Lanxess now intends to mothball the pilot plants after successful development of the new production process. A labour consultation process was started locally to align potential impacts on staff with unions and employees.

An important step in this new process was the testing of the new technology in two pilot plants at its production site in Zwijndrecht/Belgium since spring 2012. The production process of butyl rubber is highly complex and requires process steps at very low temperatures and significant usage of steam, says the German firm. The new process technology is also said to be significantly more energy and cost efficient.

Butyl rubbers are used in tyre inner liners – the innermost, air- and humidity-impermeable layer of a tubeless tyre. They keep tyre pressure constant over a long period, thus making vehicles safer and ensuring they consume less fuel and therefore produce fewer emissions. Special applications include protective clothing and medical devices. The use of butyl in chewing gum production represents one particularly interesting niche market.

Besides its Zwijndrecht plant, Lanxess operates butyl production facilities in Sarnia/Canada and Singapore.

The butyl rubber business unit is part of Lanxess’s Performance Polymers segment, which recorded sales of EUR4.49 billion in fiscal 2013.


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