LANXESS says combining its additives business now bearing fruit

Specialty chemicals company LANXESS, which is headquartered in Cologne, Germany, combined all its additive-related business segments in the new Rhein Chemie Additives business unit (ADD) in early 2015, and the move is bearing fruit, the company says. One synergistic effect is the more efficient utilisation of phosphorus plants operated by the company at various sites worldwide. Following a comprehensive efficiency analysis, the phosphoric acid partial ester Additin RC 3760, previously shipped only from Mannheim, Germany, will now also be produced at the LANXESS site in Epierre, France, effectively doubling manufacturing capacity for this product.

Additin RC 3760 is an anticorrosion and antiwear additive with a long history of success in metalworking fluids, hydraulic and industrial oils.

“We use an identical manufacturing process in France,” explains Martin Säwe, head of the Lubricant Additives business line in LANXESS’ ADD business unit. “The product fulfills the same specifications and quality requirements as the Additin RC 3760 shipped from Mannheim. However there is one difference: while we have to buy-in phosphorus pentoxide in Mannheim, we are backwards integrated in France even as far as processing elementary phosphorus, meaning we have a more secure position.”

Säwe says the benefit to the customer is two fold: the added production site significantly increases supply security and delivery times can now be considerably shorter.

The expanded capacities give LANXESS new opportunities: the company can utilise its phosphorus chemistry plants at both sites more efficiently, and adapt Additin RC 3760 for use in even more additive packages.

“In addition, we now have new options for manufacturing phosphoric acid partial esters, which have not been produced on an industrial scale at LANXESS to date,” explains Säwe. “It makes us much more flexible in developing new products based on phosphoric acid esters. Additin RC 3760 from France is just the first step. We already have plans for additional products.”

By combining all these activities in ADD, the company’s existing know-how in phosphorus chemistry can be exploited much more efficiently, he adds.

“We are phosphoric acid ester experts,” explains Karsten Job, head of the Plastic Additives business line at ADD. “This chemistry makes up a large part of our business.”

The LANXESS phosphoric acid esters that are used, for instance, as flame retardants and phthalate-free plasticizers in polyurethanes and PVCs, are similar to those marketed to the lubricants industry. In some cases, they are even comprised of the same molecules.

“The obvious next step was to combine our plants and our expertise,” says Job.