Zinc oxide as a specialty chemical plays a crucial role in the manufacture of many everyday products. For example, it is an important processing aid in the rubber processing industry, for exterior coatings, and in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Thanks to their high level of activity, Lanxess zinc oxide products are effective catalysts in the sulfur crosslinking of rubber components, such as conveyor belts or hoses. In addition, they provide excellent UV protection in the formulation of sunscreen products and skin creams. The specially developed zinc oxide versions of these products are particularly kind to the skin due to their neutral pH value, and have antiseptic properties.
Established more than 80 years ago at the Krefeld-Uerdingen Chemical Park, the zinc oxide plant narrowly avoided closure in the early 1990s. Fortunately, as important customers in the rubber industry were reliant on a supply of zinc oxide, and so production in the plant continued. Thanks to its diverse properties, zinc oxide is currently enjoying an impressive resurgence. One of the reasons behind this is the specially tailored products that Lanxess’ chemists have been developing in recent years for use in an increasing range of new applications.
Lanxess is currently expanding its plant to meet increasing demand. The foundation stone for a third production line was laid in November 2017. The chemicals company is investing around 9 million euros in this. “The additional production line will further enhance our global position as a manufacturer and supplier of zinc oxide,” says Philipp Junge, head of the Rhein Chemie business unit. “The expansion will allow us to meet long-term demand and avoid potential pinch points in production.”
The finished zinc oxide, a white powder, boasts large specific surface areas and a particle size distribution that is optimal for many customer applications. “The optimisations that we have made to the process over the decades are reflected in more than just highly consistent quality,” says Junge. Lanxess’ chemists can also tailor the product’s particular properties to the specific needs of the customer application. “We are continuously refining our process and the products – always in discussion with our customers and in keeping with their objectives.”
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