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From Site Selection magazine, January 2011

Chemical Giants Expand in China

AkzoNobel, which has a huge presence in China, has opened a plant in Ningbo.
Photo courtesy of AkzoNobel

our of the world's leading chemical companies recently began production at major new facilities in China.

AkzoNobel officially opened its €275-million (US$434-million) Ningbo multi-site in China in November. Occupying a 124-acre (50-hectare) plot, the company's Functional Chemicals business is producing chelates in Ningbo. The same business also planned to start up new ethylene amines and ethylene oxide factories at the site before the end of the year, with an organic peroxides facility due to come on stream in 2011. The products produced in Ningbo will serve a number of markets including the building and construction, cleaning and detergents, food preservation, oil, personal care and pulp industries.

AkzoNobel currently employs around 6,500 people in China, where it now has 27 manufacturing locations.

Dow Corning and Wacker Chemie have opened their joint integrated silicone manufacturing site in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province. The facility will serve fast-growing demand for silicone materials in China and Asia. The combined $1.8-billion investment, covering 1 million sq. m. (10.7 million sq. ft.), is China's largest facility of its kind and is among the world's biggest and most advanced integrated silicone production sites. The integrated site includes a siloxane plant and a pyrogenic silica plant, both of which are jointly owned by Dow Corning and Wacker. The site also features finished silicone production plants which are owned and operated independently by each company.

Siloxane and pyrogenic silica are key ingredients in the manufacture of finished silicone products. Silicone-based materials are used in nearly all sectors of China's economy, including automotive, construction, cosmetics and personal care products, electronics, power generation and distribution, solar energy and textiles. 

"While the economic environment has changed a lot since we broke ground here four years ago, our commitment to and faith in China's future has never changed," said Dr. Stephanie Burns, chairman and CEO of Dow Corning Corp. "Throughout China and in many other parts of Asia, we see an increasing number of manufacturers using silicones to improve the performance of their products. Our investment in this site significantly enhances our ability to meet that need and to spur growth in many key industries in this region."  

Rhodia Silica has begun production at a high-performance silica plant in Qingdao. Rhodia's highly dispersible silica is used principally in the production of energy-efficient tires. The company says its technology decreases the tread's rolling resistance, resulting in a 5- to 7-percent reduction in fuel consumption by light vehicles. Located on a 17-acre (seven-hectare) site, the plant adds more than 30 percent of additional capacity to Rhodia's global silica production network.

"We provide our customers with a unique technology and the corresponding volumes required to meet the increasing regulatory demands for tire labeling around the world," said Tom Benner, president of Rhodia Silica. "The site will enable us to profit fully from Asia's significant development potential and reinforce our leadership position in this market."

China Fab Makes Debut for TI

Texas Instruments has opened its largest fab in China.

exas Instruments has opened its first wafer fabrication facility, or fab, in the Chengdu High-tech Zone. The fab is a fully equipped 200-mm. manufacturing facility and was purchased from Cension Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. It includes an operating 120,000-sq.-ft. (11,148-sq.-m.) fab that can support more than $1 billion in annual revenue and a 134,000-sq.-ft. (12,448-sq.-m.) fab reserved for future production needs.

"TI has been committed to serving the China market for 25 years," said Gregg Lowe, TI senior vice president. "Increasingly, customers there are using TI's analog chips for the real-world functions in their electronic applications. This fab in Chengdu will strengthen our ability to support customers' growing requirements and deliver analog products when and where customers need them."

Bombardier in Belfast

The clean room area in Bombardier Belfast’s new wing manufacturing and assembly facility includes a fabric cutter. The first phase of the new facility has been completed.
Photo courtesy of Bombardier

ombardier recently completed the first phase of construction of a 600,000-sq.-ft. (55,742-sq.-m.) facility in Belfast that will house the manufacture and assembly of advanced composite wings for the Montreal-based company's new CSeries commercial aircraft. The Belfast operation is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the wings, including all flight control surfaces and high-lift systems. 

The first phase of the new building includes a production area, a low contamination "clean room" area and an area for tool storage. The main equipment, including a fabric cutter, multiple-axis machine cell, pre-formers and autoclave, is currently being installed and commissioned in preparation for production of the CSeries wings, which is due to begin in 2011.

The facility, which is part of a £520-million (US$821-million) investment by Bombardier in its Northern Ireland operation, is being built to meet high environmental standards. The building's layout and design are optimized for energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact. The facility will be a LEED-certified building with emphasis on waste segregation and recycling.

Hydropower for China

Alstom’s new plant in Tianjin, China, is a carbon-neutral manufacturing site.

ower generation specialist Alstom inaugurated its new hydropower manufacturing facility at Tianjin, China, in November. Alstom says its new factory will place the company in a better position to supply its customers in China and abroad, while offering opportunities for further expansion in China's healthy hydropower market, which accounts for 22 percent of the country's electricity generation capacity and is expanding at a rate of 15 GW per year.

The new site will eventually replace Alstom's original factory in Tianjin. Representing an investment of just under €110 million (US$145 million), the facility is Alstom's first carbon-neutral manufacturing site in China. Its energy-efficient design includes double insulation, heat recovery systems, a geothermal heating and cooling system that consumes 43 percent less energy, rainwater recycling and solar photovoltaic panels that will provide electricity for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation for the entire factory. In addition, skylights have been installed to take full advantage of natural light.

Philippe Joubert, president of Alstom Power, said the factory's location in the TAEZ industrial zone near Tianjin Airport provides room for further expansion. The new facility will house a Global Technology Center where Alstom will carry out R&D activities and test turbines developed for its customers. It will be Alstom Hydro's third global technology center, following the opening of centers in Grenoble, France, and Vadodara, India, in 2008.

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