The Antwerp factory

Antwerp plant
Antwerp plant

Return to an old ground

The development of the location in Belgium in the 1970's progressed rapidly. After only 18 months in construction, the first production facility of Degussa Antwerpen N.V. went into operation on April 3, 1970. The reason for establishing a large new production location outside Germany was the increased demand for the important products hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching and oxidation agent, the bleaching agent sodium perborate and AEROSIL, which among other things optimizes the properties of paints, pastes, powders and dyes.

The new start in the Flemish port was at the same time a return to an old stamping ground. As far back as 1887, Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt (Degussa AG since 1980 and predecessor of the Chemicals Business Area of Evonik) together with Frankfurter Metallgesellschaft AG had founded the Usine de Désargentation S.A. in Hoboken near Antwerp. This joint venture de-silverized and refined lead ores from the Spanish town of Mazaron. As a result of the Second World War this Degussa location was destroyed.

The new production site, covering a total of 110 hectares, was created in October 1968 on an artificially reclaimed island between the Schelde and Antwerp, Europe's second largest industrial port. Silt was used to raise the site by six to nine meters. The Antwerp location also placed Degussa at the heart of the competition geographically. Home to BASF, Bayer, Solvay, DOW and other chemical and petrochemical companies, Antwerp is Europe's most important chemicals location and the world's second largest after Houston, Texas.

Degussa forged ahead with the development of other products at the new location. When Degussa Antwerpen N.V. was officially opened on October 7, 1970, further plants producing AEROSIL, sodium perborate, hydrogen peroxide and cyanuric chloride (a raw material needed among other things for intermediate products in plastic synthesis), were already up and running.

Site Expansion

In the years that followed the production plants continued to expand and new ones were added. In 1974 the production center was launched for feed additives in the methionine product group; a year later the production plants for silicium tetrachloride, a raw material for extracting silicic acids and for triazine (used among other things as a basic material for plant protective) came into operation. The same year saw the construction of a new flue plant for producing AEROSIL.

In July 1976 Degussa Antwerpen N.V. started manufacturing the Organosilane Si 69, an important additive in the rubber industry, which for example optimizes the material properties of automobile tires and technical rubber items.

After a planning and construction period of less than a year, the first pressure hydration plant came on stream, producing among other things 1,2,6 hexanetriol, a straight-chain polyalcohol needed as a raw material for various plastics. This was followed in 1982 by expansion of the production plants in Antwerp, with construction starting on a pellagra preventive factor facility, which produces B3 vitamins for human medicine and as a feed additive. In 1993 Degussa Antwerpen N.V. set up its own research and development division. Among all the chemical companies located in Antwerp, this was a unique initiative, underlining the global orientation of the research and development operations.

The infrastructure was expanded significantly in Antwerp in 1995 with the construction of a large fuel-storage depot for hydrogen peroxide, with its own landing stage and pipeline. In 1996 construction began on another Organosilane Si 69 production plant, which came on stream in September the same year. This increased Degussa's capacities in the Organosilane sector to 12,000 tons worldwide per year.

The expansion is reflected in the growth in employee figures. The new location started operating in 1969/70 with around 400 employees. By 2007 some 1,000 employees were working there.

Today Antwerp is one of the most important international branches of Evonik Industries.