LANXESS inaugurated the largest butyl rubber global research and development center in Canada, dedicated to butyl elastomers. Located in the Research Park of the University of Western Ontario, the center's official inauguration was marked by a ceremony attended by the Chairman of the LANXESS Board of Management, Axel C. Heitmann, Vice President of Research and International Relations at the University of Western Ontario, Dr. W.E (Ted) Hewitt, and the Head of the LANXESS Butyl Rubber Business Unit, Ron Commander.
The Global Research and Development Center is designed to leverage access to the knowledge base and technical capabilities in all areas of material research. Sharing the London Research Park with over 60 start-up companies creates a unique culture for innovation and a center of excellence for material research.
The R&D Center plays a central role in generating a continuous pipeline of product applications that meet the growing demand for high-quality rubber products in emerging markets. In China, for example, where the population is aging, the need for butyl rubber used in medical devices has increased rapidly. Butyl rubber is the material of choice for such products as closures in injection vials and blood collection tubes. Because of butyl's impermeability to gases and liquids, it ensures proper protection of sterile pharmaceutical products from external contamination during storage and use.
As access to mobility continues to increase around the world, the Butyl R&D Center is also closely engaged in developing innovative solutions in this field. For example, new grades of butyl rubber are being used in tire treads in ways that provide greater traction, significantly improving tire performance in wet and dry conditions and adding to their safety performance. Rolling resistance and tread durability is not negatively affected.
In his address, Chairman Axel C. Heitmann said, "One of the most promising areas of research for our new R&D Center is rubber made from biomass instead of petroleum-based raw materials. Here in this R&D Center, we have produced the first quantities of bio-butyl. This bio-based rubber will enable us to decouple our resources from petroleum dependency."
Through its partnership with Gevo, a US-based renewable chemicals company, LANXESS has demonstrated a firm commitment to producing premium synthetic rubber from bio-based raw materials. Gevo is currently developing a fermentation process to produce isobutanol from the fermentable sugars in biomass. At the same time, researchers at the new LANXESS R&D Center are concentrating their expertise on developing a dehydration process to convert isobutanol into isobutene, a key input in the production of butyl.
Ron Commander, Head of the Butyl Rubber Business Unit, stated, "For innovation to pay off, it must target the specific needs of our customers in a specific market. For this reason, we take a global approach to R&D. We are also leading the way in sustainable innovations. A greener world is coming, and next-generation products are helping to make it happen. All of us at LANXESS, and certainly our employees here in Canada, are proud to be doing our part."
About LANXESS in Canada
LANXESS in Canada employees around 500 highly-qualified personnel engaged in innovation and production of Butyl rubber and olefins, while the Research Park in London, Ontario is home to more than 60 companies with over two thousand professionals in a multidisciplinary environment.
About LANXESS Butyl Rubber
LANXESS is one of the world's second-largest producers of Butyl rubber and has plants in Sarnia, Canada, and Zwijndrecht, Belgium. The company is also investing EUR 400 million in a new Butyl rubber plant in Singapore, which comes on stream in the first quarter of 2013.
LANXESS' Butyl Rubber Business, headed by Ron Commander, produces high quality Butyl and Halobutyl rubbers for the tire and rubber industry. High impermeability to gases and liquids is one of the great advantages of these rubbers. This property is particularly useful for tire inner liners, inner tubes and other niche markets, such as pharmaceutical closures and protective clothing.
LANXESS is one of the leading specialty chemicals companies with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 15,500 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 46 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.