Lanxess beefs up rubber plant in Belgium

German speciality chemicals company Lanxess has strengthened its butyl rubber plant in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, by having expanded capacity by 10% and building two new pilot plants for R&D for butyl rubber.

The biggest share of butyl rubber produced in Zwijndrecht is premium halobutyl rubber, used mainly in tyre inner liners to keep tyre pressure constant over a long period. Butyl rubbers can also be used in the tread of a tyre allowing better grip and comfort. Special applications include protective clothing and medical devices as well as for chewing gum production.
With the EUR20 million expansion, the capacity of the facility is 150,000 tonnes/year. Lanxess is also building a new butyl rubber facility on Jurong Island, Singapore, with a total capacity of 100,000 tonnes/year, to start up by 2013. Lanxess has another butyl rubber plant in Sarnia, Canada, with a capacity of 150,000 tonnes/year.
The new pilot plants at Zwijndrecht will test innovative production technology since butyl rubber is highly complex and requires process steps at temperatures ranging between -95 to +200ºC. The new process the firm is developing is to use fewer resources and thus be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.