Evonik breaks ground on new catalyst facility in Argentina

By Bryan Sims | September 20, 2011

In an effort that would expand its global presence as a leading provider of alcoholates as catalysts, such as sodium methylate to the biodiesel industry, Essen, Germany-based Evonik Industries AG held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 15 for the construction of a new catalyst production plant in Puerto General San Martin, Argentina.  

“This investment is a clear sign of our commitment in South America and symbolic of our strategy to take part in the growth of this region,” commented Dahai Yu, Evonik’s executive board member.

According to Evonik, engineering and design of the facility is complete. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2012 and will supply ready-to-use alcoholates as catalysts for the production of biodiesel, adding that the facility will primarily serve Argentinean and Brazilian markets with an annual capacity of over 60,000 metric tons. Evonik’s catalyst production plant will be part of a site where Terminal 6 S.A. operates a major biodiesel production facility.

“We will complete the plant construction without undue delay to ensure that our South American customers will soon have access to our high-quality, locally-produced catalysts,” said Jan Van den Bergh, head of Evonik’s advanced intermediates business unit.

A global market leader for specialty catalysts for the production of biodiesel, Evonik started up production of a catalyst facility in Mobile, Ala., with an annual capacity of 60,000 metric tons in 2009. The company said it built the plant primarily to serve the growing North American biodiesel market. Based on successful use of the new production technology at its facility in Mobile, its plant in Argentina will follow the same design type, which involves generating alcoholates in a direct reaction of alcohol and lye. Evonik also operates a catalyst manufacturing plant at its German Niederkassel-Lulsdorf site near Cologne.

“The new facility in Argentina will strengthen our business around the world and in the region,” Van den Bergh said. “This will allow us to participate in the significant market growth for biodiesel, which is projected to expand strongly in the intermediate term.”

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