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Wacker expanding on multiple fronts

Wacker Chemie has announced plans to invest “a double-digit million euro amount” on it the new Biotechnology Centre at its corporate research facility in Munich, which is due to be operational in 2024. CEO Christian Hartel said that building it “will allow us to concentrate and intensify our research activities in the area of biotechnology. The additional capacity we will create here will accelerate the growth of our life-sciences division.”

Plans include laboratory and pilot plant areas spread across about 2,000 m2 over three floors. Research will mainly concentrate on the manufacturing process of biopharmaceuticals, especially advanced medicines, plus fermentation-based manufacture of ingredients for foods and food supplements. It will house about 90 people.

Another German site to see a recent groundbreaking ceremony (pictured) has taken place at Halle, where Wacker is building its competence centre for mRNA actives, including coronavirus vaccines. The company will invest over €100 million to triple capacity at the site. Part of the capacity will be available to the German government when required as part of its pandemic preparedness contracts.

The expansion will more than triple capacity at Halle. Plans involve a new, four-storey building, to be connected to the existing one. As well as four mRNA production lines due to be operational in two years’ time, it will contain storage areas, QC laboratories and office space. Around 200 new employees are currently being recruited, doubling numbers.

Wacker had announced during its capital market day in March that it would “significantly increase its investments in the further growth of its biotechnology business”. It aims to invest more than €80 million/year in this area in the next few years. By 2030, Wacker Biosolutions is planned to contribute around €1 billion/year to sales.

In a different division, Wacker has officially opened a new, 165,000 m2 silicones site at Panagahr, 160 km northwest of Kolkata. This is part of its Indian joint venture Wacker Metroark Chemicals (WMC), which dates back to 1988 The investment of “a mid-double-digit million euro amount” will create 100 jobs.

Panaghar will initially manufacture silicone rubber and Silmix brand ready-to-use silicone compounds for applications in electromobility, medical technology and electrical transmission and distribution. A further expansion is planned to add silicone fluids and emulsions. The site is three times larger than the existing site at Amtala, which will continue to make silicone fluids and emulsions for the cosmetics and personal care industries, and will thus double Wacker’s Indian capacity.

WMC said that sustainability was a key factor in the construction. River water for production will be supplied via pipelines to protect the groundwater reserves and it will use solar energy and renewable raw materials to generate energy and heat, including rice husk from the region around it. 

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