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New Halex plant for WeylChem

The WeylChem Group has announced that it is building the largest potassium-fluoride (KF)-based plant for halogen exchange (Halex) reactions in the Western world, at its Allessa site in Fechenheim Industrial Park in Frankfurt. This is the largest investment in Allessa since it was incorporated into WeylChem eight years ago. The project will take two years to complete.

Halex technology is used to convert chlorinated into fluorinated aromatic hydrocarbons, facilitating multiple new, multi-step syntheses that can be used to produce complex intermediates in high degrees of purity. It is mainly used in the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries, but electronic sector applications are also feasible. Some orders have already been received, the company said.

WeylChem adopted the underlying technology from the Frankfurt-Griesheim site that closed in 2019. It said that it performed “additional process development and adding comprehensive automation to create what is currently the most modern production facility of its kind”.

As well as having access to the general facilities at Fechenheim, including maintenance, site safety and wastewater treatment systems, as and processes for the treatment and recycling of waste, the project was also designed around sustainability in other ways. The plant is being built in an existing production building, has an integrated energy management system and obtains its main raw materials from nearby Frankfurt-Höchst, where WeylChem has a side-chain chlorination plant and will soon open a ring chlorination plant. In addition, the firm stated, KF technology is generally much safer than the commonly used hydrogen fluoride process.

Shortly before this, WeylChem acquired Ineos Sulphur Chemicals Spain, Spain’s largest merchant producer of sulfuric acid. This brings with it a 350,000 tonnes/year plant in Bilbao that makes sulfuric acid derived from the sulfur-burning process. It also offers oleum and molten sulfur.

The plant, to be renamed WeylChem Bilbao Spain, will be combined with WeylChem’s French operations at Lamotte. According to WeylChem president, Uwe Brunk, the two production facilities will have a strong combined sales, distribution and logistics set-up. They will also cooperate in purchasing of raw materials and services, EH&S, engineering and regional supply chain optimisation.

Another ICIG operation, Vynova, has recently announced plans to build a €4 million production plant for liquid potassium carbonate (K2CO3, or potash carbonate) at its site in Tessenderlo, Belgium. Construction will begin in Q3 and the plant should be operational in mid-2022. The new plant will replace the existing plant at the same site and will be the largest of its kind in Europe. K2CO3 is used, among other things, in fertilisers and agrochemicals, and the food processing and glass sectors.

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