Brazil and France: Synthetic Rubber Arlanxeo to Heavily Invest in Modernisation of Production Sites
This move has been undertaken to develop the company’s market position in the synthetic rubber market across the globe.
Maastricht – Arlanxeo is strengthening its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of synthetic rubber. Over the next three years, the company will invest mid double-digit million Euros to modernise its production sites in Triunfo, Brazil and La Wantzenau, France.
The firm is systematically implementing advanced technologies for growing high performance rubber grades in order to support the development of its customers in important regions over the long term. The programme will be financed by Arlanxeo’s own cash flow.
Upgrading of the Triunfo Facility in Brazil
In Brazil, the company is investing in its facility in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul, to make the production of polybutadiene rubber (PBR) more flexible. Currently emulsion styrene-butadiene rubber (E-SBR), which is mainly used in car and truck tires, is produced there.
As a result of the upgrade, the company will also be able to produce the more advanced PBR types Nd-BR (neodymium butadiene rubber) and lithium butadiene rubber (Li-BR) for tire and non-tire applications in Triunfo in the second half of 2020. This follows the growing need of the local tire manufacturers for high performance tires.
At the same time, the firm is relocating part of its existing E-SBR production in Triunfo to its facility in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro, where E-SBR is already produced. This should allow for better economics going forward.
The demand in Brazil for high-performance rubbers for tires continues to grow, supported by the tire labeling regulation, similar to laws that are already in place in the European Union, Japan, and South Korea, for example. All new tires produced in Brazil must be rated with respect to their rolling resistance, grip on wet track, and external noise. The use of Nd-BR in tires significantly improves tire performance, resulting in lower fuel consumption and better wet grip, among other benefits.
Polybutadiene rubbers under the Arlanxeo brand name Buna are primarily used in the tread and sidewalls of tires. In addition to tires, they are also used to modify plastics in the production of Hips (high impact polystyrene) for injection molding applications. Other areas of application include golf balls, running shoes, and conveyor belts.
Investment in La Wantzenau, France
In addition to the regular maintenance investments, the firm is modernising its production site in La Wantzenau, France, the world’s largest nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) facility. Arlanxeo expects global demand for high-quality NBR rubbers to increase in the coming years. The focus here is on growth in traditional business areas and new applications, some of which have been developed with customers, but also the use of NBR as a raw material for the production of the company’s Therban (HNBR) specialty products.
The NBR synthetic rubber produced by the firm in La Wantzenau is sold under the Perbunan, Krynac, and Baymod N brands. It is used in the production of cables, seals, hoses, blankets, and soles for safety and athletic shoes, among other uses. The most important markets are the automotive industry, the construction sector, as well as oil and gas production and processing.