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Denka building plant in Japan to meet demand in auto sector

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Neil Schaaf (left) and Ryuji Endo of Denka Corp
Photo by RPN photo by Mike McNulty Neil Schaaf (left) and Ryuji Endo of Denka Corp., which is constructing a new plant in Japan, manned the company's booth during the International Tire Exhibition & Conference.

AKRON—Denki Kagaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha is preparing for further growth of its carbon black business with the addition of a new plant in Chiba, Japan.

More commonly known as Denka Corp., the chemicals manufacturer began constructing the facility earlier this year and hopes to complete the project in spring of 2015, according to Ryuji Endo, sales manager at the firm's New York office.

Expected to span about 40,000 square feet, the plant's employment figures were not available when Endo discussed the project at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Akron.

“We needed to expand our production capacity to meet the growing demand for Denka Black,” he said, especially in the high voltage power cable and lithium ion battery markets. Some of that demand has been spurred by recent growth of electric and hybrid vehicles, he said.

Headquartered in Tokyo, the company has made substantial gains in the market and has been expanding its customer base, which created the need for the new plant, he said. The 99-year-old company operates several facilities in Japan, two plants in Singapore and a factory in China.

Denka makes chemicals for a wide range of industries, said Neil Schaaf, sales and marketing assistant manager at the New York office.

He said the company is a global leader in the production of acetylene black, used in tire bladders, and polychloroprene.

Denka Black, an acetylene black, will be produced at the new plant in Chiba, Endo said.

The facility is being built near an existing Denka factory that makes petrochemical products, including synthetic resins.

Denka also makes acetylene black at a facility in Singapore, Schaaf said.

Acetylene black is a carbon black made from acetylene gas, rather than natural gas that is used for thermal black or crude oil for furnace black, according to Endo.

Denka Black has a high conductivity for electricity and heat, he said. It is used heavily in manganese batteries, lithium secondary batteries and power cables.

“We've been making it for 70 years,” he said, noting that Denka Black's conductivity “is better than most carbon blacks for tire bladders.”

He said “Denka has a stable acetylene black business for high voltage power cables and tire bladders in the U.S.,” where demand is also growing for the product.

Denka operates four diverse business categories: Elastomers & Performance Plastics; Infrastructure & Inorganic Materials; Electronics & Innovative Products; and Life Science & Environment Products.

Its products span a wide range of fields, from raw materials, both inorganic and organic, to electronic materials and pharmaceuticals.

The company is making major inroads on the polychloroprene manufacturing front, Endo said.

After the anti-dumping duty on polychloroprene was lifted in 2010, the firm began marketing the material and building up its base in the U.S., he said.

At one time, it had a polychloroprene factory in Houston but sold the operation in 1984.

Denka is the largest producer of polychloroprene in the world, he claimed, with annual production capacity of about 220 million pounds.

Endo said the company provides customers with global reliance, secure availability, a huge lineup of materials, new technology support and other services.