LANXESS EPDM Plant, Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Lanxess, a speciality chemicals group, broke ground in September 2012 on largest new ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber plant. The facility is capable of producing 160,000t a year of EPDM, comprising ten premium grades.
The project site is located at Changzhou Yangtze Riverside Industrial Park, in the province of Jiangsu, China. The investment on the construction of the new plant was €235m ($305m).
Up to 2,000 people were involved in the construction of the various facilities at the project site in Changzhou. The front-end engineering design (FEED) for the new plant was performed by Foster Wheeler. The company was also awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the project in November 2012.
The new facility has increased Lanxess's overall capacity of EPDM production to approximately 48,000t per annum (tpa).
Chinese plant location and purpose
The project site at the Changzhou Yangtze Riverside Industrial Park was specifically selected due to its close proximity to Changzhou Port and the availability of logistics facilities. The feedstock for processing EPDM can also be easily obtained from a methanol-to-olefins (MTO) plant at the project site.
The project was executed in China due to the growth of the demand for EPDM, which currently stands at 4% per annum globally and 8% per annum in China. The company also intends to meet the growing demand of EPDM in the neighbouring Asian countries, which are experiencing growth in the automotive and construction industries where most of EPDM's utility is focussed.
EPDM products manufactured at Lanxess's facility
Lanxess markets its EPDM products under the brand name Keltan. The company earlier in 2010 acquired the patented technology for producing EPDM from DSM Elastomers, which also marketed EPDM under the same brand.
EPDM is primarily used in the automotive industry for automotive body sealing, radiator hoses, brake parts and belts or engine mounts, including windshield wipers.
Its application in the construction industry is witnessed across various domains, such as window gaskets, as sealants, tunnel seals, expansion joints, solar panel tubing, sound insulation wall panels, bridge bearing pads, railway paths, artificial grass, sports granulate and rubber tiles for playgrounds.
Other applications of EPDM are in the plastics and oil additives modification, electrical industry and in consumer goods.
Changzhou plant process technology
The primary feedstock used for processing EPDM comprises ethylene, propylene and non-conjugated diene. The company has implemented its patented Keltan ACE catalyst technology for processing EPDM. The process reduces energy requirements for production and does not require catalyst extraction, due to its high-catalyst efficiency. The technology allows for manufacturing new EPDM rubber grades, such as oil-extended EPDM and special high-molecular weight EPDM.
EPDM is a terpolymer based on three monomers. It contains no saturated residues in the side chains and as a result, requires no radiation vulcanisation, when compared with EPM. EPDM can be put to pressure-less continuous curing with sulphur and accelerators.
Marketing commentary for Lanxess
Headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, Lanxess has 52 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,600 people in 29 countries. Its business units are grouped into three units, namely performance polymers, advanced intermediates and performance chemicals.
The company processes 320,000tpa of EPDM from its production sites located in Geleen (Netherlands), Marl (Germany), Orange (US) and Triunfo (Brazil).
It also opened a leather chemicals plant at the Changzhou site in April 2013. The plant, which was built with an investment of €30m ($39m), is capable of producing 50,000tpa of leather chemicals.
In February 2010, speciality chemicals group Lanxess announced plans to establish a formalin plant at its Krefeld-Uerdingen site in Germany.
Lanxess' neodymium polybutadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) plant in Singapore is set to be become the largest Nd-PBR producing facility in the world.