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Wacker Chemie Polysilicon Production Plant, Nünchritz, Saxony, Germany

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Wacker Chemie Saxony plant

Wacker Chemie, a Munich-based chemicals manufacturer, officially opened a new polysilicon production plant in the German state of Saxony on 22 April 2012. The nominal production capacity of the plant is 15,000 metric tons each year. It will manufacture hyperpure polycrystalline silicon for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries.

The new polysilicon factory is built at Wacker Chemie's existing silicone production site in Nünchritz, which is located approximately 14km north-west of Dresden, the capital city of Saxony. Wacker's Nünchritz site is spread across an area of 1.3 square kilometres.

The new production complex will enable Wacker to produce 52,000 metric tons of top-grade polysilicon every year by the end of 2012.

Acquisition and modernisation of Wacker's Nünchritz site

"The new polysilicon factory is built at Wacker Chemie's existing silicone production site in Nünchritz, which is located approximately 14km north-west of Dresden."

Nünchritz has been a preferred location for chemical factories since the 1900s. Wacker Chemie acquired the site from Hüls in October 1998 and subsequently modernised and expanded it by building infrastructure and setting up new production facilities.

Wacker's Nünchritz facility manufactures various silicon-based chemicals and chemical compounds, such as silane and siloxane, silicone oil, silicone emulsions, anti-foam agents, silicone rubber and fumed silica. There is also a cartridge-filling facility. Production of polycrystalline silicon commenced in April 2012.

A monomer plant and an alkoxy - BS15 plant were opened at the site in 2001. An emulsion plant, a methyl chloride plant, an H siloxane plant and an HDK/SHK plant were opened the following year, in 2002.

Wacker has invested approximately €1.5bn ($1.87bn) in the Nünchritz facility to make it one of the world's largest and most innovative manufacturing facilities for silicones and polysilicon. More than 1,400 people work at the factory.

Construction and production at the German polysilicon plant

Construction on the new polysilicon plant was launched in 2008 and completed in the third quarter of 2011. Production of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon from the first deposition reactors commenced in October 2011.

"Wacker aims to become one of the largest producers of top-quality semiconductor and solar-grade silicon."

The project is said to have created in excess of 500 permanent jobs. About 1,500 construction engineers and fitters from Saxony and Bavaria worked for the plant's construction. The majority of the materials used in building the facilities were sourced in Saxony.

Hyperpure polycrystalline silicon produced from the new Nünchritz factory will be used to manufacture wafer for the electronics and photovoltaic industries. Wafer is produced by converting metallurgical grade silicon into liquid trichlorosilane, and distilling and depositing the liquid in hyperpure form at 1,832°F.

One of the most important features of the new complex is the use of a gas recovery unit with integrated loop material processing system. It reprocesses by-products and feeds them back into the manufacturing chain as starting materials.

Advanced safety technology and a modern plant fire department ensure high safety levels and minimise possible dangers for workers, manufacturing facilities and the environment.

Financial support from the European Investment Bank (EIB)

The polysilicon factory has been constructed with an investment of €900m ($1.12bn). It was financed by state incentives, self-financing, prepayments and a long-term loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The EIB's long-term loan, worth €400m ($500m), was approved in May 2009 to finance the construction of the polysilicon manufacturing plant.

Marketing commentary on Wacker Chemie's global operations

Wacker Chemie is a German chemicals company with global presence. The company sells its products in more than 100 countries through 53 sales offices. It operates 25 production sites in Europe, Asia and America and also has 20 technical competence centres.

As of December 2011, about 17,200 employees were working with the company. Annual sales in 2011 were about €4.91bn ($6.13bn).

Wacker aims to become one of the largest producers of top-quality semiconductor and solar-grade silicon. For this, the company is ramping up its production capabilities by expanding existing facilities by building new polysilicon plants. A new polycrystalline-silicon production plant was opened at Burghausen in Germany in April 2010.

The company's another polysilicon production plant is under construction in Tennessee, USA. Completion of this plant will elevate the company's annual production capacity to 70,000 metric tons by 2014.

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