Materials Science

Evonik starts production of precipitated silica in South Carolina

Evonik Industries has started up a precipitated silica plant for the tire industry in South Carolina, in southeastern USA. Evonik has invested about US$120 million in this world-scale production plant, in response to the high demand from the tyre industry for precipitated silica in North America. The automotive sector needs highly dispersible precipitated silica for production of tyres with improved rolling resistance and better wet grip. Silicas are part of Smart Materials, one of Evonik’s four strategic growth engines.

“The opening of the new production plant is an important step in strengthening our position as a global partner for the tyre industry,” said Harald Schwager, deputy chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik Industries. “In the expansion of our silica business we’re following a clear strategy. In addition to taking over the activities of Huber Silica we’re continually expanding our capacities for silica.”

Proximity to key customers in the tyre industry was the decisive factor in the choice of the South Carolina site. Johannes Ohmer, member of the Management Board of Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH, said: “From here we plan to supply our local customers with innovative products and custom-tailored solutions.” Evonik will also produce the recently developed ULTRASIL 7800 GR silica in South Carolina. Due to its larger specific surface area, ULTRASIL 7800 GR gives the tread compound more rigidity without negatively impacting its processability. It is therefore particularly suitable for SUVs, whose main global market is the US.

The construction of the new production plant in Charleston creates over 40 new jobs.

Evonik is a leading global manufacturer of silica. In addition to the fumed silica AEROSIL and the precipitated silica ULTRASIL, SIPERNAT, ZEODENT and SPHERILEX, Evonik also produces silica-based matting agents under the ACEMATT brand name and other fumed metal oxides under the brand AEROXIDE. Overall, Evonik has a global production capacity for all silica-based products of about 1 million metric tons/year.