Oslo — Elkem ASA plans to spend nearly $42 million at its plant in Roussillon, France, in a project designed to benefit its customers in the Americas, as well as in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
The Oslo-based materials supplier said the project is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2023 and will address "a structural deficit of upstream siloxanes" across the EMEA sector, Elkem said in an Oct. 27 news release. The investment will increase production capacity for silicone intermediates at the plant by 20,000 metric tons a year to 100,000 tonnes.
Elkem also said the investment will improve the cost position and environmental performance through debottlenecking, better energy efficiency and upgraded wastewater treatment.
Elkem says the investment complements ongoing expansion at its Xinghuo, China, site, which mainly serves growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
"At a time when silicones and their raw materials are in shortage, the expansion is cornerstone to meeting the future needs of our specialty silicones customers in EMEA and the Americas, where the market is expected to grow by around 6 percent per year between 2020 and 2025," Frederic Jacquin, senior vice president in charge of Elkem's Silicones Division, said in a statement.
The investment includes installing new equipment and major technology upgrades in key parts of the facility to provide higher materials efficiency, more energy efficient processes, reduced waste and water effluents treatment, according to the firm. It is the largest organic investment project in Elkem's European silicones franchise in a decade.
Elkem said the decision confirms the strategic importance of the Rhone Valley for its silicones division, after the company announced an agreement to acquire a third manufacturing site in the area, and the opening of a new global research and innovation center over the past few months.
According to Elkem's website, the Roussillon site converts silicon metal into chlorosilanes, vinyl chlorosilanes and siloxanes. The products are the key components for the company's downstream silicones production in Saint-Fons and elsewhere in Europe.
The company said specialty silicones bring unique properties and performances to a wide panel of cutting-edge and sustainability-aligned markets, including electric and hybrid vehicles, semi-conductors, decarbonized energies, 3D printing, health care and medical devices, aerospace, defense and sustainable buildings.
Elkem's Silicone Division has more than 4,200 employees worldwide at 13 manufacturing and 13 research and innovation centers worldwide.
Rubber News staff contributed to this report.