After four years of construction, Wacker Chemie AG (Munich, Germany; www.wacker.com) and Dow Corning Corp. (Midland, Mich; www.dowcorning.com) today officially inaugurated their joint integrated silicone-manufacturing site in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, China. The facility will serve fast-growing demand for silicone materials in China and Asia. The combined $1.8 billion investment, covering 1-million m2, is China’s largest facility of this kind and is among the world’s biggest and most advanced integrated silicone production sites. The integrated site includes a siloxane plant and a pyrogenic silica plant, both of which are jointly owned by Wacker and Dow Corning. The site also features finished silicone production plants, which are owned and operated independently by each company.
Siloxane and pyrogenic silica are key ingredients in the manufacture of finished silicone products. Silicone-based materials are used in nearly all sectors of China’s booming economy, including automotive, construction, cosmetics and personal care products, electronics, power generation and distribution, solar energy and textiles. The landmark project began in 2006 and the first phase of raw material production was launched in 2008. The combined capacity for siloxane and pyrogenic silica is expected to reach approximately 210,000 metric tons per year.
At the integrated Zhangjiagang site, Dow Corning and Wacker adhere to strict global environment health and safety standards (EHS) and state-of-the-art production processes and technology to ensure high product quality and performance. These include advanced processes for raw material efficiency, a highly energy-efficient design and environmental control technology.
The innovative joint-venture approach, operating shared facilities, offers economies of scale through the sharing of power, utilities and subsequent efficiencies. The integrated production technology plays an important role in reducing emissions and logistical efficiency.
The closed-loop facility will allow the siloxane plant to supply chlorosilane for the production of pyrogenic silica. In turn, the pyrogenic silica plant will send back its by-product, hydrogen chloride, for the production of siloxane. When the site does purchase raw materials, many can be sourced locally offering additional efficiency and cost benefits.