“Green tyres” – thanks to high performance special-purpose rubber
Trinseo Deutschland GmbH creates new capacity in Saxony-Anhalt
Fuel-efficient driving and energy-saving cars are becoming more and more popular, and not only benefiting people’s wallets, but also the environment. This is something that has also been made possible due to energy-efficient high-performance tyres, for example. In this respect, a specially produced form of rubber is resulting in a reduction of the rolling resistance, and therefore, an increase in performance, fuel efficiency and durability. Tyres can account for between 20 and 30 percent of the total fuel consumption of a vehicle. Motorists who drive with "green tyres" consume a total of 3 percent less fuel. Over the typical service life of a set of tyres of approximately 45,000 kilometres, that is equivalent to a saving of up to 80 litres of fuel compared with conventional tyres. Trinseo, a global supplier of materials solutions and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders and synthetic rubber, has set itself the task of increasing the demand for "green tyres" and is currently expanding its capacity for the high-performance special-purpose rubber known as “solution styrene-butadiene rubber” (S-SBR) at Schkopau Chemical Park in Saxony-Anhalt.
Competence and expertise in the area of synthetic rubber technology
The optimisation and expansion of the Trinseo’s synthetic rubber production complex is adding a total of 50,000 tonnes to its production capacity for S-SBR: it will be possible to produce some 200,000 tonnes of material per year rather than the 150,000 today. Trinseo is therefore increasing its global production of S-SBR by 33 percent. Its increased investment is a targeted response to the growing worldwide demand for the material. “Our expansion in Schkopau is, above all else, our fastest opportunity to create new capacity with a low level of risk, and this is due to a wide range of reasons: Schkopau is situated in the heart of central Germany, a region which is home to a huge amount of specialist expertise in the field of synthetic rubber technology. The first industrial scale, global production of synthetic rubber started here some 80 years ago. Furthermore, Trinseo's production facilities are also integrated into a closely networked infrastructure, including the supply of butadiene, and the experienced workforce can boast a proven track record in the implementation of investment projects,” explains Ralf Irmert, Managing Director of Trinseo Deutschland GmbH. The investment is part of Trinseo’s growth strategy for its business division of performance materials. Part of the company’s synthetic rubber complex is currently being optimised and extended and is likely to enter operation from 2018. “Our customers can rely on us in terms of both the rapid expansion of our production facilities and the fact that our high-quality products qualify for rapid certification,” explains Ralf Irmert.
A new milestone is achieved with one million tonnes of S-SBR
The Trinseo success story began in 2010 with its foundation from the business areas of synthetic rubber, polystyrene, latex and polycarbonate. The company focuses on innovative, sustainable solutions for supporting customers with the manufacturing of products which have an impact on daily life. These include, along with others, the automotive industry, entertainment electronics, household equipment, lighting, electronics, carpets, paper, carton as well as the construction sector and the tyres sector. Trinseo now has a global presence, with 15 production plants and ten research and development centres worldwide, and employs approximately 2,200 people. In Schkopau, where the company has approx. 530 employees, the core area of expertise is the production of synthetic rubber and polystyrene. With its rubber complex, Trinseo operates one of the biggest production plants for synthetic rubber in Europe. In the first quarter of 2017, it was here that the company also passed a key milestone, reaching a total production volume of one million tonnes of S-SBR since the start of its production operations in the year 2000.
Success through innovation
A key factor behind this milestone is the company’s continuous focus on the improvement of the technology. Approximately 30 employees in Schkopau work in the area of product research and development on a consistent basis. To further speed up the development process from the laboratory sample to the marketing of new and innovative high performance tyres, a new S-SBR pilot system is being constructed which is set to enter operations at the end of 2017. The pilot system has valuable technological capabilities which will allow customers to be supplied with S-SBR materials more efficiently, and support the manufacturers of high performance tyres with meeting the challenges of the new market trend.
Image caption: From 2018 onwards, Trinseo is increasing its global S-SBR production by 33 percent through increasing the capacity at its Schkopau location. (Photo: Trinseo)
Author: Jennifer Koch