As one of our five corporate objectives, we emphasize sustainability in the product life cycle – from the raw material to its use by our customer:
- Silicones for polymers that are not based on crude oil
- Renewable sources possible
- Sustainable procurement strategy
- Designed to save energy and resources
- Recycling within production
Products for the Industries of Tomorrow
- Solar and wind
- Building insulation
Creating Added Value for Our Customers
- Product stewardship
- Increase the sustainability of customer products
WACKER has a series of products that contribute to sustainability in areas that will be of global importance going forward, such as energy efficiency, urbanization and rising living standards.
The energy sources of the future are the sun, wind, water, biomass and geothermal power. WACKER product lines – including products in line with SDG 7 for affordable and clean energy – will help us use these resources efficiently.
We actively support climate-friendly mobility – whether in battery research or as a manufacturer of high-tech materials for electric vehicles. Specialty silicones can withstand the higher temperatures that arise in car engines which have been downsized to achieve better fuel efficiency. Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRPs) with silicone-coated fibers are 80 percent lighter than steel. That makes them a key component in the automotive sector for extending the range of electric vehicles and reducing the fuel consumption of combustion engines.
We have developed highly transparent liquid silicones for lighting systems and support energy-efficient headlamp technologies that utilize LEDs and highly transparent grades of silicone rubber. The tremendous increases in LED performance over the last few years has meant that organic materials are no longer capable of withstanding the heat and light flux. That is why high-performance LEDs are being produced using heat- and light-resistant silicone-based encapsulation and lens materials. In this manner, LED components can now be manufactured in very large quantities with modest plant and process investment.
The generation of safe, clean power from wind also plays a central role at WACKER. Wind turbine blades consist of half-shells of composite materials that are bonded together, requiring the use of special high-impact modifiers for wind power generators. Thanks to its VENTOTEC® impact modifiers, WACKER now offers additives for hybrid products made of silicones and organic polymers – additives that can make these kinds of adhesive layers lasting and secure.
WACKER is among the main suppliers worldwide of polysilicon for the production of solar modules. In the reporting period, we continued to expand our production capacity for hyperpure polysilicon to meet increasing demand from the photovoltaic industry and to support the switch to renewable energy sources.
Urbanization and Construction
More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. This creates new challenges for our communal life. We need infrastructure that conserves resources better, construction that is more intelligent, and materials that are lighter. As one of the world’s leading producers of construction chemicals, WACKER is contributing to the development of livable cities in keeping with both SDG 9 for industry, innovation and infrastructure and SDG 13 for climate action.
An example of considerable importance to cities in emerging markets suffering from water shortages is the use of waterproofing membranes based on VINNAPAS® binders to seal canals reliably and economically, thereby preventing water loss.
ETONIS® is an additive for pervious concrete in which the surface has pores that absorb liquid. The use of ETONIS® as a polymer modifier makes concrete structures last longer in that this additive protects them from mechanical stress and from freeze/thaw damage and road salt.
ETONIS® is also used in the construction of what are known as sponge cities, a concept gaining importance in countries such as China. This innovative road engineering technique plays an important role in preventing floods caused by heavy rainfall, especially in densely populated urban centers, where traditional concrete renders extensive, paved-over surfaces largely impermeable to water. When used in road surfaces, ETONIS® also helps reduce vehicle noise by five to eight decibels.
Dispersible Polymer Powders for Building Insulation
Saving energy – particularly in construction – is going to be an important field of endeavor throughout the world, as climate change will require insulating buildings from heat as well as cold. VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powder ensures that adhesive mortar sticks to both the wall and the insulation material in external thermal insulation composite systems/exterior insulation and finish systems (ETICS/EIFS). ETICS or EIFS consists of a multilayered composite material in which the addition of a dispersible polymer powder yields a lasting, stable insulation system. The dispersible polymer powder improves both the adhesion and the impact strength in what is known as the embedding coat. Hydrophobizing VINNAPAS® polymer powders are especially effective in protecting the top coat from moisture. VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders allow manufacturers to produce insulation boards comprising different materials, including renewable substances such as cork and wood-wool.
There is enormous potential for using ETICS/EIFS technology to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over the long term. Heating or air-conditioning accounts for more than half of a building’s energy demand. In buildings that are insufficiently insulated, a large portion of this energy is lost through the exterior – an average loss of 25 percent for a free-standing, single-family home. In a ten-story apartment building, 40 percent of the heating energy is lost through exterior walls (data for Germany; https://daemmen-lohnt-sich.de/ (German-language version only)).
Around 20 to 30 percent of heating energy is lost through poorly insulated windows. ELASTOSIL® silicone rubber seals windows, is weather-resistant and withstands temperature fluctuations.
Dispersions for Environmentally Sound Paints
Applications for VINNAPAS® dispersions include their use as binders for interior-wall paints. Particularly eco-friendly dispersions are those made without substances that emit formaldehyde or APEO-based surfactants (alkylphenol ethoxylates), and that contain just minute amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). More and more of our dispersions are made without any APEOs, plasticizers or solvents at all.
Dispersible Polymer Powders for Tile Adhesives, Flooring and Insulation Systems
Urban centers are booming worldwide. Wherever space gets tight, the buildings get taller, which puts new demands on materials. Dispersible polymer powders for tile adhesives and flooring systems help make it possible to coat untreated floors more quickly. This is because self-leveling flooring compounds cure more quickly and are ready for the next flooring layer sooner (wood, tiling or carpeting). Polymer-modified tile adhesives make it possible to install tiles of any type or size quickly and easily. Polymer modification also reduces the amount of material used, with little cement needed. Both applications produce few emissions and allow our customers to make environmentally friendly products in keeping with environmental standards such as EMICODE® EC1 Plus or Blue Angel.
Silicone Resins for Lasting Protection of Building Exteriors
SILRES® BS products protect exterior paints and plasters, making exteriors attractive for longer and better insulated, and thus improving their energy efficiency. Silicone resin emulsion paints (SREPs) are permeable to water vapor, which improves the indoor environment. A coat of high-quality silicone resin emulsion paint reduces heat loss from external walls by as much as 40 percent. Heat is lost faster from damp walls – the role of silicone resins is to help keep the walls dry. A SREP coating decreases heat demand by an average of 4.6 percent. The use of silicone resin emulsion paints and plasters extends renovation intervals for building exteriors by up to 25 years. Some listed buildings cannot be insulated with ETICS/EIFS technology, making silicone resin emulsion paints one of the few materials that will improve a building’s energy balance.
Affluence is on the rise almost all over the world, increasing expectations as regards housing, food, health and general convenience. WACKER is spearheading innovations to meet these expectations sustainably. We want growth in standards of living – particularly in emerging markets – to be supported by our energy-saving and resource-efficient products, such as polymers, for the paper and packaging industries, and cyclodextrins, for foodstuffs.
Medical technology is another area in which we have launched a few products during the reporting period:
- SILPURAN® 2122 and SILPURAN® 2117 are pressure-sensitive silicone gels that can be used for breathable, skin-compatible wound dressings.
- We have also developed the WACKER process for Spectrila®, a microbial method for manufacturing biologics that opens up the possibility of cost-efficient production of a leukemia medication for children.
- FOLDTEC®, our E. coli-based refolding technology, helps manufacturers produce highly pure pharmaceutical proteins without the use of antibiotics.
Renewable Raw Materials
Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are composed of up to 75 percent wood fiber (sawdust, etc.) and a thermoplastic polymer such as polypropylene or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). WPCs can be molded into the desired form with modern plastic technology processes: extrusion, compacting, thermoforming, and injection and rotational molding. GENIOPLAST® PP is a WPC additive that substantially improves throughput, which in turn increases energy efficiency. Areas of application include floor coverings and automotive interior trims.
DEHESIVE® SFX is a solvent-free silicone polymer that serves as a highly efficient coating material for label release liners and films. For pulp and paper manufacturing we offer PULPSIL® 968S, a silicone surfactant that improves pulp dewatering, thus reducing water consumption and evaporation costs, conserving energy in the process. Many people still wash their clothes by hand in Asia, especially in the key market of India. During the reporting period, we developed SILFOAM® single-rinse technology – anti-foaming agent in the detergent eliminates the need for more than one rinse step, which saves water.