Evonik in tie-up with Austria/Thailand for biobased silica

Evonik in tie-up with Austria/Thailand for biobased silica

German chemical firm Evonik, one of the world’s leading silica producers, says it has entered a strategic cooperation with the Pörner Group, Austria, and Phichit Bio Power Co., Thailand, to supply sustainably precipitated Ultrasil silica to tyre manufacturers. It is made from sodium silicate derived from rice husk ash (RHA), that is produced exclusively with biomass energy sources. Pörner Group’s pioneering process to generate the silicate from RHA uses biomass energy that enables Evonik to deliver a CO2 footprint reduction of up to 30% compared to its standard silica. Phichit Bio Power with its existing rice mills and biomass power plants, licenses Pörner Group’s technology and will invest in a new RHA sodium silicate plant in Thailand.

Silica is the key-ingredient for fuel-efficient tyres, reducing the fuel consumption by up to 8% compared to conventional passenger car tyres. With the sustainable Ultrasil silica a next step will be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the silica significantly. The silicate, which is the essential raw material to produce the tyre silica will be biobased and made with green energy.

The demand for sustainable raw materials in tyres is increasing significantly. However, until now only very small quantities of biobased silica are available in the market, which do not meet the rising global demand.

The new collaboration addresses this shortage and the industry’s ambition to increase its use of renewable raw materials. This is required to meet the global tyre industry’s demand for more sustainably produced silica.

“This cooperation is a strategically important first step in the further development of our product portfolio. For the first time, we can offer our customers an Ultrasil silica with an improved sustainability profile, thus we can support our customers’ carbon reduction and circularity goals,” said Emmanuel Auer, Head of Silica business line. “Further measures at other sites in our global production network are also planned to expand our renewables offering to meet global demand more sustainably.”

“At our demonstration plant in Germany we have verified the superior quality of the bio-silicates over several years of research and development in a pre-qualification process with Evonik,” said Gerhard Bacher, CEO of Pörner Germany. “Our patented process is based on the ash of biomass power plants fired with rice husks, where the Pörner Bio-Silicate Technology intelligently uses the natural filtering ability of the rice plant to produce high-quality sodium silicates for many applications – above all to produce the silica used in the tyre industry. Now, through this cooperation, it is possible to produce Bio-Silicates on an industrial scale and significantly reduce the CO2 footprint compared to the conventional processes. We are starting to decarbonise the silicate processing industry worldwide.”

“The environmental benefits of producing silicate from rice husk ash are clear, but equally as important are the benefits the cooperation brings for our stakeholders in the region. For example, through the creation of new jobs for local communities around the plant, or for farmers who will be able to connect to our electricity generation network,” said Banjong Tangjitwattanakul, President of Phichit Bio Power Co.

“We are proud to play our part in realizing this vision to supply the quantities of silicates from rice husk ash that will support the global silica production market to reduce its carbon footprint and help the planet.