Lanxess Neodymium Polybutadiene Rubber (Nd-PBR) Plant, Singapore
Lanxess' neodymium polybutadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) plant in Singapore is one of the largest Nd-PBR producing facilities in the world. Groundbreaking for the facility was held in September 2012. The facility was officially opened in August 2015.
The new plant is located at the Jurong Island Chemical Park, adjacent to Lanxess' £400m ($648m) butyl rubber plant, which opened in June 2013.
The Nd-PBR plant was constructed with an investment of €200m ($224m). It has a production capacity of 140,000t a year and generated approximately 100 jobs.
The plant's output is primarily used in the production of green tyres, which have attracted great demand in recent years. Manufacturing and use of green tyres enables Singapore to save roughly 352,600t of carbon dioxide emissions and 140 million litres of fuel.
Location choice for Lanxess' rubber plant
The decision to construct the plant on the existing site at the Jurong Island Chemical Park was announced in June 2011. The location was chosen because of its easy access to raw materials, the availability of skilled workers, and existing infrastructure facilities in the region. The site's proximity to a seaport and customers in Asia further gave impetus to the decision.
The motive to construct the plant was enforced by the growing demand for green tyres, especially in Asia, the new labelling rules for tyres across Europe, and the growing environmental consciousness behind wheel production.
Technology used at the Nd-PBR facility
Nd-PBR is classified under Lanxess' performance butadiene rubbers (PBR) business unit. The product is produced in various locations, including Germany, Dormagen, Cabo, Brazil, Port Jerome, France, and the US.
Nd-PBR has the lowest glass transition temperature due to its high 1.4-cis content. Its compounding features of a high-molecular weight, narrow molecular weight distribution and a low degree of branching, make it suitable for the manufacturing of tyres. It is mainly used in the threads and sidewalls of green tyres for reducing the rolling-resistance of tyres and increasing their fuel efficiency. It also effectively reduces abrasion in tyres, enhancing safety and bringing in economical and ecological benefits.
The product contains a far smaller quantity of unnecessary atoms in the rubber molecules, which results in lower heat generation compared with other conventional products.
Nd-PBR is also used for modification of plastics while manufacturing high-impact polysterene for injection moulding applications. Other utilities of Nd-PBR include the manufacturing of golf balls, running shoes and conveyor belts.
The use of Nd-PBR also has additional advantages due to its nature of possessing a good wear resistance, flexibility in cold temperatures and easy processing.
Suppliers for the Singapore-based chemicals plant
Butadiene used for the manufacturing of Nd-PBR is supplied by the Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS). PCS has also built a 100,000t/y butadiene extraction plant, including other facilities needed for the supply of butadiene.
Steam required for the Nd-PBR plant is provided by Tuas Power as part of a ten-year supply contract, which can be optionally extended further.
The detailed engineering and construction contract for the largest Nd-PBR plant in the world was awarded to Foster Wheeler Asia Pacific.
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