MUNICH—Wacker Chemie A.G. is planning to expand several sites in an effort to raise its global silicone rubber capacities, gradually adding about 44,000 metric tons by 2021.
Wacker has earmarked about $126 million for the capacity expansions, responding to high demand for silicone rubber, according to a Wacker news release.
Robert Gnann, head of the Wacker Silicones business division, said silicones "are essential" to product design in several key industrial sectors, including automotive, medical and electronics.
"Above-average growth is being driven by the trends toward hybrid cars, electromobility and digitalization, as well as decentralized alternative electricity generation using wind and solar power," Gnann said in a news release. "So, we are making a major contribution to increased sustainability while pursuing our strategy of clearly focusing on boosting specialties in our portfolio."
The chemical group is planning capacity enhancements for liquid silicone rubber, high- and room-temperature-vulcanizing silicones and thermally conductive silicone compounds at its production sites in Burghausen, Germany; Adrian, Mich.; and Zhangjiagang, China. Wacker also is evaluating the option of building a plant for solid silicone rubber at its U.S.-based site in Charleston, Tenn., where it has been producing polysilicon since 2016.
A plant for manufacturing pyrogenic silica will come on stream at the site next year.
In April, Wacker brought on stream a new production site for silicone sealants and thermally conductive silicone compounds in Jincheon, South Korea. The production of room-temperature-vulcanizing silicone elastomers and liquid silicone rubbers also has started in Amtala, India, where Wacker manufactures silicones in a joint venture with Metroark.