Solvay today announced it will invest €75 million to build a new 85,000 ton per year Highly Dispersible Silica (HDS) plant in Wloclawek, Poland. Combined with a further capacity expansion at its site in Qingdao (China), these two investments will increase Solvay's global highly dispersible silica production capacity by an additional 30%.
Located in central Poland, close to key energy distribution and the new Warsaw-Gdansk highway, the new plant will offer logistical benefits to customers in Eastern Europe and Russia. The site is a designated Special Economic Zone (SEZ) integrated within the industrial site of Anwil, a subsidiary of the Polish refining and energy company PKN Orlen. The completion is expected in the third quarter of 2014.
"We are committed to support our customers' growth in Eastern Europe, Russia, and around the world. This new site will offer our most innovative products from a very reliable and competitive platform. We continue to be committed to invest ahead of industry development to preserve our technological and market leadership," says Tom Benner, President of Solvay Silica.
Among other HDS products, the new plant will produce Zeosil® Premium, the latest generation of highly dispersible silica, used by tire manufacturers in the production of energy-saving tires. Zeosil® Premium is a uniquely engineered patented HDS which decreases fuel consumption by up to 7%, while enhancing other tire performance properties.
"We are seeing a strong demand for further Silica innovation to improve tire performance. Tire labelling regulation has led to a four-fold increase in Zeosil® Premium adoption over the past year and we expect a strong growth trend to continue", Benner adds.
Solvay will also add production capacity to its Qingdao plant (China) which started-up in 2010. This expansion is already underway and scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. It will elevate the capacity of the site to 112,000 tons per year.
These investments follow volume expansions in France (2012), the US (2011), and a new plant in Qingdao, China (2010). Upon the completion of these projects, Solvay's worldwide highly dispersible silica annual production capacity will stand close to 500,000 tons, doubling from pre-2010 levels.