WESSELING, Germany—Evonik Industries A.G. is planning heavy investments for innovation.
The firm will invest about $4.4 billion to boost research and development in the next 10 years, and in a separate announcement, said it plans to invest several million dollars in research to improve fillers for modern high-performance tires and develop silica/silane systems for heavy-duty truck and bus tires.
Evonik did not release a timeframe for the development of these silica/silane systems for truck and bus tires nor the specific financial details of its planned investment.
Evonik spent about $452 million in R&D for 2014. Claus Rettig, head of Evonik's Resource Efficiency Segment, said in an email that the firm intends to keep R&D spending for 2015 at about the same level as 2014.
“Our intention is to turn Evonik into one of the world's most innovative companies,” CEO Klaus Engel said during a March 26 news conference.
“Innovations open up new business areas and strengthen our leading market and technology positions.”
Evonik also intends to strengthen its specialty silicones capabilities with a triple-digit million Euro investment. The firm plans to expand capabilities at its facility in Essen, Germany, and add a new production complex for specialty silicones in Shanghai.
“The market for specialty silicones continued to grow in recent years,” Rettig wrote in an email.
“This development is mainly driven by the construction, textile, coating, furniture and appliance industries. Particularly strong was the demand in Asia. We want to position ourselves as a long term, reliable supplier and partner and therefore meet the demands of the different markets even better and to accompany the growth of our customers locally.”
Evonik said the market for green tires is growing worldwide because the reduced rolling resistance and the improved wet grip of these tires make them attractive for customers. The firm forecasts that the share of green tires in the global market will grow to 30 percent in 2015, up from 10 percent in 2010.
The firm began a large investment program in 2010, Rettig said, and since has invested an “upper double-digit million Euro” amount in its global production network for precipitated silica. Evonik is in the middle of building its first plant for precipitated silica in Brazil, set to come online in 2016.
Globally, Evonik intends to add a pilot-scale line for precipitated silica at its facility in Wesseling, Germany, which Rettig said is well-booked with several customer projects.
The firm is in the process of adding a research center for silanes at its facility in Rheinfelden, Germany. The research center is slated to be completed by the beginning of 2016.
Evonik said it increased its capacities for precipitated silica by 30 percent from 2010-14. It produces silanes at Rheinfelden; Antwerp, Belgium; Rzhao, China; Mobile, Ala.; and Weston, Mich. It operates laboratories for application technology support and regionally specialized research for silanes in China, India, Germany and the U.S.
Evonik's silane portfolio comprises chlorosilanes and organofunctional silanes with an overall annual capacity of 300,000 metric tons. The firm produces precipitated silica at nine sites worldwide with the 10th under construction in Brazil.