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LANXESS to expand caprolactam production in Antwerp
Sep '08
The specialty chemicals group LANXESS AG is to expand its site in Antwerp with capital expenditures amounting to some EUR 35 million. The plan is to raise the capacity of the caprolactam production plant in the port of Antwerp by 10 percent by 2010.

At present, the plant supplies around 200,000 tons/year of this important raw material which is needed mainly for the manufacture of PA 6. Around half the monomer produced in Antwerp under the LANXESS flag is currently used for the production of polyamides from the Durethan family. These products have proved successful over many years in the production of heavy-duty plastic components for the automotive industry, for example.

"This investment will consolidate our excellent position in the global plastics business. It is another step on the way to profitable growth. At the same time, it is a clear declaration of faith in our Antwerp site. In conjunction with the ongoing measures to improve efficiency, the investment will further improve the competitiveness of this site," says Rainier van Roessel, a member of the LANXESS Board of Management.

"In addition, it will safeguard the backward integration of our global plastics business, where rising feedstock prices are playing a major role".

Apart from caprolactam, LANXESS also produces glass fibers in the port of Antwerp, where it operates a world-scale plant. These glass fibers are another of the raw materials used in the manufacture of high-performance plastics. Backward integration with these strategically important materials will give LANXESS reliable, inexpensive access to the core raw materials it needs.

The caprolactam facility in Antwerp is part of a large complex consisting of five plants devoted to the production of this vital raw material. It is positioned at the end of a chain which yields cyclohexanone and oleum – highly concentrated sulfuric acid – and their pre-products for caprolactam production under LANXESS's management. This latest project will also include measures to increase the capacity of some of these plants by 2010.

The capacity for KA-oil (a mixture of cyclohexanone and cyclohexanol, which is formed through the oxidation of cyclohexane and is later processed into caprolactam) will be raised by 25 percent to 150,000 t/y by 2010. LANXESS is a leading manufacturer of engineering plastics.

Under the brand names Durethan and Pocan, it markets a range of polyamide 6 and 66 and thermoplastic polyesters that are renowned for their outstanding properties such as toughness, heat resistance and ease of processing.

Durethan and Pocan are suitable for heavy-duty technical components that have to comply with the highest specifications in terms of functionality, load resistance and long-term stability. These high-performance plastics are frequently used in the automotive and electrical/electronics industries, and in domestic appliances – all segments that are widely regarded as innovation drivers.


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