Munich-based chemical company Wacker Chemie AG will build a new production plant for its pyrogenic silica brand HDK at its Charleston site in Tennessee in the US.
The new facility is a key addition to the Charleston site’s supply chain, with an expected annual capacity of 13,000 metric tonnes. The main byproduct of polysilicon manufacturing is tetrachlorosilane, which either has to be converted and fed back into the production loop or can be used to create added value by being further processed into HDK.
By integrating the polysilicon and HDK production systems, as already operated at its Burghausen and Nünchritz sites in Germany, Wacker achieves maximum flexibility in the reprocessing of tetrachlorosilane, avoids the need to dispose of waste products, and thereby enhances the efficiency of the integrated production system as a whole.
The company produces HDK pyrogenic silica at Burghausen and Nünchritz in Germany and Zhangjiagang in China.
Wacker CEO Dr Rudolf Staudigl said the additional capacities strengthen the company’s position in the market as a leading global producer of pyrogenic silica, and will also help them meet the growing demand of their customers.
“The new plant is the next logical step toward expanding Charleston into a fully integrated silicon site in the world’s second-largest chemical market,” he explained, underscoring the investment’s strategic importance.
The new Charleston facility is anticipated to involve capital expenditure of some US$150 million. Construction work will start in the second quarter of next year, with completion planned for the first half of 2019. This is expected to create some 50 new jobs at the Charleston site.
Wacker already produces hyperpure polysilicon for the solar and semiconductor sectors in Charleston, with some 650 employees there.
Wacker is the world’s third-largest manufacturer in the pyrogenic silica sector. Ultrapure amorphous silicon dioxide powder is used as a filler in silicone elastomers and as a rheology-control additive in paints, adhesives, unsaturated polyester resins and plastisols. It also serves as a flow aid in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food-processing industries. (RJA)