Elkem Expands Specialty Silicones Supply in EMEA and Americas

In an emailed press release, Elkem (Oslo, Norway), a global leader in silicon-based advanced materials, announced a strategic investment plan to unlock new specialty silicones supply for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and the Americas. The company will invest around €36 million ($41.8 million) to upgrade and debottleneck its silicone upstream plant in Roussillon, France.

The board of directors for Elkem has approved a 20,000 metric ton (22,046 ton) capacity expansion, bringing the effective silicone intermediates capacity from the company’s upstream plant to 100,000 metric tons (110,231 tons) per annum, while also delivering productivity, cost, sustainability, and climate protection improvements.

“At a time when silicones and their raw materials are in shortage, the expansion is cornerstone to meeting the future needs of our specialty silicones customers in EMEA and the Americas, where the market is expected to grow by around 6% per year between 2020 and 2025,” says Frédéric Jacquin, senior vice president in charge of Elkem’s silicones division. “This investment complements the ongoing capacity expansion at our Xinghuo site in China, which primarily serves growth in the Asia-Pacific region and further strengthens our cost position as well as environmental performance.”

Specialty silicones bring unique properties and performances to a wide panel of cutting-edge and sustainability aligned markets, including electric and hybrid vehicles, semi-conductors, decarbonized engines, 3D printing, healthcare and medical devices, aerospace, defense, and sustainable buildings.

The investment plan includes installing new equipment and major technology upgrades in key parts of the Roussillon plant in order to improve Elkem cost position and environmental performance through higher materials efficiency, more energy efficient processes, reduced waste, and state-of-the-art water effluents treatment. As the largest organic investment project in Elkem’s European silicones franchise in a decade, the plant is expected to come online during the third quarter of 2023.

The decision confirms the strategic importance of the Rhòne Valley for Elkem’s silicones division, after the company announced an agreement to acquire a third manufacturing site in the area, along with the opening of a new global research and innovation center over the past few months. It also highlights Elkem’s commitment to the Roussillon chemical platform, which is undergoing landmark transformations to protect its competitiveness and decarbonize its operations, thanks to dynamic partnerships between industrial and local stakeholders.