Wacker Group recently announced that it has officially brought a plant for manufacturing pyrogenic silica on stream at its site in Charleston, Tenn. The facility’s annual production capacity of 13,000 metric tons will be used both for sales purposes and for Wacker’s own silicone production.

Investments for the new facility totaled around $150 million and led to 50 new jobs at the Charleston site. Wacker has previously produced pyrogenic silica at its German sites in Burghausen and Nünchritz, as well as its Zhangjiagang site in China. According to Wacker, launching the new plant in Charleston puts the company in a position to offer customers in the Americas a direct supply of HDK® pyrogenic silica.

The new plant also reportedly closes material loops and improves the supply chain at the site. Wacker has been producing polysilicon in Charleston since 2016. The most important byproduct of polysilicon manufacturing is tetrachlorosilane. This material can be either converted and fed back into the production loop or can be processed into pyrogenic silica, thus creating additional value for the company and for customers.

Wacker reports that the facility is another milestone for Charleston, as the site is now able to run an integrated production based on the closed-loop system the company operates at its Burghausen and Nünchritz sites. The network maximizes the site’s flexibility for processing tetrachlorosilane and obviates the disposal of waste products, thus enhancing the viability of the integrated production network as a whole.

According to Wacker, the new plant includes state-of-the-art dispensing and packaging systems, test and development labs, and training rooms for the company’s Wacker Academy. Here, customers can participate in seminars, training sessions, and hands-on exercises for an in-depth look at the various applications of pyrogenic silica.

“The inclusion of laboratories supports customers throughout the Americas region with formulation refinements and new applications development,” said David Wilhoit, president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corp., during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Our aim is to further enhance our customers’ product performance.”

Pyrogenic silica is used as a reinforcing agent in silicone elastomer manufacturing; as a flow-control additive in paints, adhesives, unsaturated polyester resins, and plastisols; and as an anti-caking agent in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and food processing industries. For more information, visit www.wacker.com.