Wacker Chemie AG is planning to expand several sites in an effort to raise its global silicone rubber capacities, gradually adding about 44,000 tons by 2021.
Munich-based 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.