Important building block for the production of high-tech plastics.
With the beginning of February 2011, the specialty chemicals group LANXESS has produced the five millionth metric ton of its plastics precursor caprolactam at its facility in Antwerp, Belgium. This is the equivalent of roughly 250,000 tankers full. The world-scale facility in the port of Antwerp commenced production in 1967. An investment project totalling €35 million is underway to expand production there by ten percent from its current volume of 200,000 metric tons per year. LANXESS has about 1,400 employees at its site in Antwerp.
Caprolactam is required primarily for the production of the plastic polyamide 6 and used for the production of high-tech Durethan plastics. Durethan is most commonly used in the automotive industry. The use of the material instead of sheet steel enables above all considerable reductions in component weight, particularly in plastic-metal composite technology (hybrid technology), resulting in lighter and safer vehicles that consume less fuel.
Global demand for high-tech plastics continues to rise, particularly in the U.S.A., China and India. Experts expect the global use of high-tech plastics per automobile to increase by roughly seven percent per year through 2020.
LANXESS is placing a particular emphasis on these materials in 2011, which it has declared the "Year of High-Tech Plastics." The Group will be holding numerous events to provide comprehensive information about where high-tech plastics are used, the advantages they offer and the contributions they make to sustainable and environment-friendly development.