Evonik is investing an amount in the upper double-digit million euro range in the expansion of its fumed silica capacities in Antwerp, Belgium. The production complex is scheduled to become operational in the summer of 2019. Typical applications of these specialty silica, which Evonik markets under the name AEROSIL®, include coatings and paints, modern adhesive systems, transparent silicones as well as non-flammable high-performance insulation materials.

“The investment is a good fit for our strategy to concentrate more on distinct specialty chemicals businesses and to gradually create a more balanced portfolio,” says Christian Kullmann, Chairman of the Evonik Executive Board. Silica are part of “Smart Materials”, one of Evonik’s four strategic growth engines with above-average market growth and margin potential. “With this investment in the silica business, which has low cyclicality, we are consistently following our growth course and solidifying our position as a leading global provider. Following the planned takeover of the Huber silica business and the continuous expansion of precipitated silica capacity, the AEROSIL® expansion in Antwerp is the next logical step,” Kullmann notes. With this investment Evonik is executing a further project within the scope of its defined investment budget.

AEROSIL® fumed silica provides transparency together with mechanical stability.
AEROSIL® fumed silica provides transparency together with mechanical stability.

The global market for fumed silica shows growth rates exceeding 4 percent, which outpaces the global economy as a whole. The market for applications in specialty silicones, adhesives for wind turbines and in the area of non-flammable high-performance insulation is posting above-average development. “By expanding our capacities in Antwerp, we want to support the market growth for fumed silica in Europe and other important export markets, while at the same time boosting our integrated Europeansilica-silane production,” explains Johannes Ohmer, member of the Board of Management of Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH. Thanks to its central location in Europe and modern harbour, Antwerp offers ideal framework conditions.

A coating with (right) the addition of AEROSIL® fumed silica stays stable; without (left) it runs down the wall.
A coating with (right) the addition of AEROSIL® fumed silica stays stable; without (left) it runs down the wall.

Based on the new AEROSIL® expansion, Evonik will be able to supply customers not only with hydrophilic but also hydrophobic silica from Antwerp in the future. A modernization of the silane capacity is intended to secure the raw material supply for the AEROSIL® production as well as for silanes used in tire production. AEROSIL® is generated as fumed silica from the high temperature hydrolysis of silanes in a hydrogen flame.

Evonik is a leading global manufacturer of silica. In addition to the fumed silica AEROSIL® and the precipitated silica ULTRASIL® and SIPERNAT®, Evonik also produces matting agents made from silica under the brand name ACEMATT®. Overall, the global annual production capacity of Evonik for precipitated and fumed silica as well as matting agents reaches 600,000 metric tons.