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USA: New Silica Plant

New Silica Production in the US

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Distillation columns at the Charleston site in the US state of Tennessee, where Wacker produces hyperpure polysilicon for the solar sector.
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Distillation columns at the Charleston site in the US state of Tennessee, where Wacker produces hyperpure polysilicon for the solar sector. (Source: Wacker)

Construction for a 13,000 tons/year silica plant in Charleston, Tennessee, could begin in 2017. The new production lines shall supplement existing value chains at Charleston…

Charleston, Tennessee/USA – German specialty chemicals company Wacker has announced to build a new 13,000 tons/year production plant for pyrogenic silica at its Charleston site in the US state of Tennessee. With construction begin scheduled for mid-2017, the plant could be operational by 2019, creating some 50 new jobs in Charleston. There, Wacker already produces hyperpure polysilicon for the solar and semiconductor sectors with 650 employees.

“The additional capacities strengthen our market position as a leading global producer of pyrogenic silica and help us to meet our customers’ growing demand,” said Wacker CEO Dr. Rudolf Staudigl. “The new plant is the next logical step toward expanding Charleston into a fully integrated silicon site in the world’s second-largest chemical market,” he explained, underscoring the investment’s strategic importance.

The new facility is a key addition to the Charleston site’s supply chain. The main byproduct of polysilicon manufacturing is tetrachlorosilane, which either has to be converted and fed back into the production loop or can be used to create added value by being further processed into pyrogenic silica, which Wacker markets under the brand name HDK. By integrating the polysilicon and silica production, as already operated at its Burghausen and Nünchritz sites in Germany, the company achieves maximum flexibility in the reprocessing of tetrachlorosilane, avoids the need to dispose of waste products, and thereby enhances the efficiency of the integrated production system as a whole.

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