WILTON, Conn. (April 12)—GE Advanced Materials has expanded capacity for its NXT silanes at its Texas City, Texas, plant to meet "very strong" demand for the material used in making low rolling-resistance tires and other high-performance products.
The capacity expansion coincides with the launch of two lower volatile organic compound versions, according to Wayne Hewet, president and CEO of GE Advanced Materials-Silicones, the General Electric Corp. business unit that oversees silanes. The new versions—NXT LowV and NXT Ultra-LowV—reduce ethanol emissions up to 90 percent compared with polysulphide silanes, thereby widening the manufacturing envelope for using silica tire compounds, the firm said.
GE did not disclose capacity or investment information "for competitive reasons," but said the enhanced capacity is the result of a proprietary process development.
The NXT product line was launched last year with the promise of faster and easier dispersion of silica during rubber compounding, said Ian R. Moore, general manager for the silanes business, which could translate into significant savings for tire makers processing silica-based tread compounds.
Silanes are coupling agents that allow silica and rubber to bond.