COLOGNE—Lanxess A.G. celebrated the 50th anniversary of its butyl rubber plant in Zwijndrecht, Belgium this week with the visit of board member Rainier van Roessel.
With 163 employees and three reactors, the plant had an initial capacity of 30,000 tons. A half of a century later, capacity now stands at 150,000 tons.
The Lanxess Group invested more than $341 million in Zwijjndrecht for capacity growth as well as in a new energy plant and two pilot plants.
Investments not only were done in production and efficiency, but also to enhance the sustainability of the plant. One of the major projects was the construction of a new energy plant, a combined heat and power plant, which delivers steam and electricity to the plant. Butyl rubber is mainly used for the tire production. Modern radial tires require an inner liner made of halobutyl rubber, which helps keep tire pressure constant for longer because of its impermeability to gases, thus saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions.
Other applications for butyl rubber are protective clothing, shoe soles, adhesives and chewing gum. Its impermeability to gas and resistance to chemicals have also proven valuable in vehicle air conditioning systems and tank linings.
Lanxess is a specialty chemicals company with sales of $12.43 billion in 2012 and 17,500 employees in 31 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. Its core business is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.