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Evonik is the market and technology leader in isophorone chemistry, with decades of experience in this field. We have a network of integrated world-scale production facilities in Herne and Marl (Germany), Antwerp (Belgium) and Mobile (AL, USA), enabling us to achieve cost leadership in the technologically advanced production processes for isophorone products. We are the only company in the world that covers the entire value-added chain for isophorone and its derivatives.
Demand for our isophorone products is driven in particular by the resource efficiency megatrend. Isophorone-based composites are used, for example, to make wind turbines more efficient and automobiles lighter. Moreover, isophorone products increase the service life of heavy-duty surfaces. That cuts maintenance costs and often makes refurbishment unnecessary. Examples are floor coatings in parking garages, facades that have to withstand tough climate conditions and ships that are constantly exposed to salt water. Environment-friendly coating technologies such as UV-curing systems and solvent-free powder coatings are growing especially fast. Regionally, Asia offers sustained high growth potential.
Evonik has an outstanding position at all stages in the production chain: isophorone, isophorone diamine, isophorone diisocyanate and their derivatives. Our isophorone products are mainly used as crosslinkers in high-performance environment-friendly paints and lacquers and to produce binders for modern coating systems. Firmly established brands such as VESTASOL®, VESTAMIN®, VESTANAT® and VESTAGON® set us apart from our competitors in this market.
Isophorone plays a key role in many chemical synthesis reactions and is responsible for glossy printing inks and paints. The main applications for isophorone diamines are heavy-duty coatings for industrial flooring, followed by high-quality and durable anti-corrosion coatings, both of which are attractive growth markets. However, demand is rising fastest for isophorone diamine for high-performance composites. For example, the resin used in the construction of rotor blades for wind turbines contains two components—an epoxide resin and a curing agent comprised mainly of isophorone diamine. This component optimizes resin curing and the stability of the composite, which is essential for the production of large rotor blades.
Isophorone diisocyanate is a key component in many eco-friendly coating technologies and is used for coatings with particularly high light, weather and temperature resistance. It is also used in automotive interiors, for example, to produce higher quality instrument panels and trims. Other attractive applications are thermoplastic polyurethanes for medical technology and composite safety glass.
In response to market momentum we selectively expanded our production network by adding a production complex in Asia. This new complex, which is geared to the fastest growing areas of isophorone chemistry—isophorone and isophorone diamine—was erected at our multi-user site in Shanghai Chemical Industry Park. Investment in this new production complex, which came on stream in 2014, exceeded €100 million. We now have integrated production facilities in the world's three main economic areas, Europe, NAFTA and Asia, so we can expand our market leadership still further. The new complex in China mainly serves the coatings and colorants industry and the construction, adhesives and composites markets in the Asia-Pacific region. It is complemented by a new applied technology service center in Shanghai because working closely with our customers is one of our key strengths.
Our integrated technology platform for isophorone-based products has been steadily refined over the decades. In the light of plans to build an isophorone line in Shanghai, the entire process chain was reviewed in a bid to achieve a new dimension in the selectivity of isophorone and isophorone diamine at the new world-scale plants. Other benefits of the optimized process are lower energy consumption, resulting in lower CO2 emissions and a reduction in waste.
Moreover, together with our customers, we are constantly developing new applications for high-performance integrated technologies based on isophorone derivatives, for example, polyurethane elastomers for interior trims in the automotive sector and extremely weather-resistant paints and coatings. Isophorone-based formulations for epoxide composites for use in lightweight vehicle bodywork will remain a major area of research in the future.
Thanks to our leading technology position, global market presence and strong links to cus-tomers, our isophorone business has an excellent basis for further above-average growth—driven by the resource-efficiency megatrend.
C-IR, May 2015