German specialty chemicals Evonik Industries, has started up a precipitated silica plant for the tyre industry in South Carolina, US, in response to the high demand from the tyre industry for precipitated silica in North America. It has invested an estimated US$120 million in this world-scale production plant.
The automotive sector needs highly dispersible precipitated silica for production of tyres with improved rolling resistance and better wet grip. Silicas are part of Smart Materials, one of Evonik’s four strategic growth engines.
Harald Schwager, Deputy Chair of the Executive Board of Evonik Industries opined that the opening of the new production plant is an important step in strengthening the firm’s position as a global partner for the tyre industry.
From the new plant, Evonik will supply its local customers with innovative products and custom-tailored solutions. Evonik will also produce the recently developed Ultrasil 7800 GR silica in South Carolina. Due to its larger specific surface area, Ultrasil 7800 GR gives the tread compound more rigidity without negatively impacting its processability. It is therefore particularly suitable for SUVs, whose main global market is the US.
The construction of the new production plant in Charleston creates over 40 new jobs. Evonik has a global production capacity for all silica-based products of about 1 million tonnes/year.