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Lanxess finishes 3-year expansion project at German plant

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Lanxess inaugurated its production facility for chloroprene rubber at its Dormagen, Germany,
Lanxess inaugurated its production facility for chloroprene rubber at its Dormagen, Germany, plant recently. Cutting the ribbon (left to right) are Site Manager Ralf Tappe; Werner Breuers, a Lanxess board member; Stefan Rittmann, head of the firm's chloroprene rubber business line; and Jan Paul de Vries, head of the performance elastomers business unit.

DORMAGEN, Germany—Lanxess A.G. has completed an expansion of its Baypren polychloroprene solid rubber production operation in Dormagen.

The firm said it invested about $24.5 million in the project, which will increase the annual production capacity of the facility by 10 percent to 63,000 metric tons. The expansion took about three years to complete.

Stefan Rittmann, head of Lanxess' chloroprene rubber business line, said the investment includes development costs for the dry finishing process in addition to the new elements for the Dormagen site, including extruders, nozzle coagulation units, underwater pelletizer and other equipment.

“This investment is further proof of our leading know-how in the field of high performance synthetic rubber,” Werner Breuers, member of Lanxess' board of management, said in a statement. “By expanding our Baypren plant, we are providing the market with new impetus and demonstrating our strength to our customers.”

Rittmann said employment will not increase in conjunction with this expansion. The Dormagen site employs about 1,000, which the firm said is the third largest Lanxess production site in Germany.

The Baypren unit within the plant employs about 250 and is part of the high performance elastomers business, which falls under Lanxess' performance polymers segment. The segment recorded sales of about $6.13 billion in 2013.

The Dormagen site is Lanxess' only chloroprene rubber facility. Rittmann said its new technology has been used for some of its other synthetic rubber manufacturing sites for many years, but this is the first time the technology will be used for CR.

The new line uses its dry finish production technology, which enables Baypren to be manufactured in fewer production steps and conserves resources, Laxness said. The process dehydrates the rubber in a special extrusion device, requiring less water and reducing the amount of wastewater.

The firm said the natural gas previously needed to dry the rubber no longer is necessary with the new process, which reduces the amount of waste air produced.

The company is adding two new variants of Baypren to its product portfolio at Dormagen: Baypren high performance and Baypren green finishing. The high performance variant benefits from further optimized flow behavior, the firm said, while the green finishing grades feature enhanced crosslinking.

“Lanxess believes in the potential of CR as an all-rounder for many rubber applications,” Rittmann said. “The new process allows us to produce a new range of product modifications and to expand our portfolio of currently around 40 grades. In addition, it enables us to operate more efficiently in terms of energy and resources and thus more ecologically.”

Baypren high performance rubber grades combine good resistance to weathering, oil and heat with impermeability to gases, the firm said. They are used in the automotive sector to make hose, belts, seals and other products.