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Wacker Chemie plans new silicone specialties site in the Czech Republic

Germany’s Wacker Chemie has announced plans to further expand its silicone specialties business and is reorganising its production operations in Europe. 

A new production site for silicones is to be built in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic as the company gears to meet growing demand for silicones from electromobility and renewable energy sectors. Production at the site is expected to start at the end of 2025. Investment volume would be in the “low triple-digit million euro range”, the company said.

The new site is intended to complement Wacker’s existing integrated production sites in Germany – Burghausen and Nünchritz –, as well as the site in Pilsen, which is specialised in the area of electromobility.

“Karlovy Vary will be an important pillar for our silicone activities in Europe, especially when it comes to the production of customised silicone compounds. With this project, we will be creating important conditions for further optimising our production processes and making us even more flexible within our integrated production system comprising four locations,” said Wacker Executive Board member Mr. Christian Kirsten.

The main drivers for the silicone business are megatrends such as electromobility, renewable energies and the expansion of electricity grids. “Our grades of silicone rubber are in demand in all key growth markets. Customized silicone elastomers are especially needed where conventional materials cannot or can no longer meet the high and ever-increasing requirements. In order to be able to meet the growing demand for such solutions in the long term, we need to lay the groundwork for it now,” noted Mr. Kirsten.

The new site in Karlovy Vary will focus on the production of room-temperature-vulcanising specialty silicones. Later, high-temperature-vulcanising silicone compounds will also be produced there. When fully operational, Karlovy Vary will be able to supply over 20,000 metric tons of custom-made silicones per year.

Integrated operations

The raw materials required for production – polymers, fillers and additives – are to be delivered from Burghausen and mixed in Karlovy Vary to manufacture ready-to-use silicones, also referred to as compounds. “By bundling our production capacities for compounds in Karlovy Vary, we can utilise our fully continuous plants in Burghausen even better, further increase our efficiency and accelerate the planned automation of our processes,” emphasised Mr. Thomas Koini, President of the Wacker Silicones business division. “In future, our site in Pilsen will focus on the growing market for silicone gels and thermally conductive silicones. Such products are in high demand in the electromobility sector in particular. This means that our existing plants will also benefit from the new production concept,” he added.

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