"Last September, we announced an increase in our global precipitated silica production capacity of more than 18,000 tons per year through phased expansion projects at our Lake Charles, La., and Delfzijl, Netherlands, manufacturing locations," said Kevin Braun, PPG general manager, silica products. "Our plan is on-schedule and these projects are already online or scheduled to be online by the end of 2012.
"We expect continued market growth in the coming years, and this investment will enable us to keep pace with the growing needs of key strategic customers and segments in the Americas," Braun said.
Braun said the silica products business and its production assets and employees are part of PPG's optical and specialty materials reporting segment, and they are not included in the announced separation of PPG's commodity chemicals business and its subsequent merger with Georgia Gulf Corp.
According to Braun, the new expansion project is expected be online by early 2014, with employment at the site increasing slightly as a result.
PPG pioneered the development of synthetic precipitated silicas, becoming one of the first manufacturers to bring them to market in the 1930s. Today, PPG's silica products business is a global leader in the manufacture of precipitated silica for use as reinforcing fillers in tire, industrial, footwear, and silicone rubber applications; as microporous fillers in battery separator applications; as flatting and thickening agents in coating, adhesive, and sealant applications; and as anti-caking, free-flow, and carrier agents in food, feed, and industrial applications. The business also makes Teslin substrate, a microporous sheet material used for card, specialty print, in-mold graphic, tag and label use, as well as technology-focused applications such as e-passports and radio frequency identification (RFID) cards and labels.