News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

May 26, 2022

Orion expanding gas black capacity, building acetylene black plant

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 9:51 pm

On May 25, Orion Engineered Carbons announced that it will complete its gas black expansion in Germany at plants in Dortmund and Cologne by early 2023. Orion is the only carbon black producer in the industry with gas black capabilities. Gas blacks, known for excellent dispersion and coloristics, are used in coatings, printing ink and other applications.

“The expansion in Germany is core to our strategy to further strengthen our leadership in the premium specialty market,” Sandra Niewiem, senior vice president of global specialty carbon black and the EMEA region, said in a press release. “As we experience continuous high demand for gas blacks, we are confident that the extra capacity will be welcomed by our customers.”

Earlier this month, Orion announced plans to build the only plant in the U.S. producing acetylene black, a conductive carbon black used in lithium-ion batteries, high-voltage cables and other products powering the global transition to electrification and renewable energy. The factory will be located in La Porte, Texas, south of Houston, and will be will be backed by a long-term agreement for acetylene supplied from a neighboring site owned by Equistar Chemicals LP, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell.

Acetylene is a colorless gas widely used as a chemical building block. Orion’s production process turns acetylene into a powder, which is added to lithium-ion batteries to enhance electrical conductivity. The material plays a similar role in high-voltage cables used for wind and solar farms.

Orion will invest between $120 million to $140 million in the facility, expected to start up in the second half of 2024. This investment should increase the company’s conductive additives capacity by approximately 12 kilotons per year.

“With this investment, we will quadruple our effective manufacturing capacity of acetylene-based conductive additives,” Corning Painter, Orion’s CEO, said in a press release. “We are already experiencing high demand for this material, so expanding capacity for it is one of our top investment priorities and a major milestone in our growth plans. This is a very big day for Orion.”

The company, which has a similar plant in France with locally supplied acetylene gas from LyondellBasell, is the sole producer of acetylene-based conductive additives in the European Union. Demand for battery additives is expected to grow rapidly amid a global boom in the construction of gigafactories making lithium-ion batteries.The plant will have a favorable environmental profile and will be subject to obtaining the routine regulatory approvals.

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