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
- Sustainable procurement strategy
- Designed to save energy and resources
- Recycling within production
Products for the Industries of Tomorrow
- Building insulation
Creating Added Value for Our Customers
- Product stewardship
- Increase the sustainability of customer products
Our planet’s climate is changing. Climate change affects the environment, the economy, and society, as well as our living conditions. We meet these challenges with innovative technologies that save energy and conserve resources. 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 affluence.
The energy sources of the future are the sun, wind, water, biomass and geothermal power. WACKER product lines – including products in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 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. When carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRPs) are coated with silicones, the weight is reduced by 80 percent compared to steel. That makes CFRPs a key component in the automotive sector for extending the range of electric vehicles and reducing the fuel consumption of combustion engines.
Our high-performance plastics ensure that the heat generated by electric drives and batteries is dissipated efficiently. As gap fillers, our silicone products conduct the heat from battery modules to the temperature-regulating systems. We offer a range of silicone products here, e.g. SEMICOSIL® 96x TC, SEMICOSIL® 9712 TC and 9754 TC, ELASTOSIL® RT 744 TC and SILRES® H 68 TC.
Our highly transparent liquid silicones for lighting systems support energy-efficient headlamp technologies that utilize LEDs as heat- and light-resistant encapsulation and lens materials. They make it possible to manufacture energy-saving LED components in large quantities with modest plant and process investment.
Energy from Wind and Water Power
With ELASTOSIL® Film, WACKER produces ultrathin precision silicone film as roll stock. When these silicone films are laminated with electrodes, they act as dielectric elastomers and can be used, for example, in power plants that derive energy from ocean waves.
In offshore wind farms, the electricity is transmitted via undersea cables. Conductively modified silicone elastomers of the POWERSIL® brand meet the demanding requirements for cables laid in the open sea. Our customers use these silicone rubber compounds, transformer fluids and pastes in power transmission and distribution applications.
Energy from Solar Power
Our high-temperature-resistant silicone fluid HELISOL® can be heated up to 425 degrees Celsius and its viscosity remains low even at -40 degrees Celsius. Used in solar thermal power plants, the fluid enables high efficiency levels.
WACKER supplies the solar industry with ultrapure polysilicon and thus contributes to reducing CO2 in power generation. As one of the main global suppliers of polysilicon for the manufacture of solar modules, we support the switch to renewable energy sources.
The solar power from solar installations to which we supplied in 2017 will save some polysilicon466 million metric tons of CO2 over the course of the installations’ lifetime (30 years) compared to the current national energy mix. (By way of comparison, this figure is nearly equivalent to Brazil’s annual CO2 emissions, which amounted to 493 million metric tons in 2018.) This calculation is based on the “” standard issued by the Addressing the Avoided Emissions ChallengeWBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development).
The carbon footprint of polysilicon is essentially determined by two factors:
- First, the specific energy consumption per quantity of polysilicon produced
- Second, the carbon footprint of the electricity mix used in the production process
WACKER is a world leader in specific energy consumption when it comes to producing polysilicon based on the Siemens process. Our polysilicon sites use an electricity mix with a comparatively low carbon footprint. In international terms, WACKER’s production of polysilicon is therefore very climate-friendly – especially compared to suppliers from Central China, whose specific consumption is higher and whose production plants are still largely powered by coal. If the amount of polysilicon produced by WACKER in a single year were manufactured by a Chinese producer using electricity from the national electricity mix in China, the CO2 emissions from production would be some three million metric tons higher. This is roughly equivalent to WACKER’s total direct and indirect CO2 emissions in 2018.
German-based Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) has further improved the efficiency of multicrystalline solar cells. Measurements during the reporting period confirm an efficiency of 22.3 percent. Reference studies, such as the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV), only showed efficiencies of around 19.5 percent for solar cells from standard production. With this new record, multicrystalline cells are venturing into performance areas previously reserved for monocrystalline material. As a starting material, the researchers used hyperpure polysilicon from WACKER.
A life cycle assessment (LCA) revealed that WACKER has the world’s lowest carbon footprint for polysilicon produced by the Siemens process. This LCA study was carried out in 2017 and 2018 to support our customers with French invitations to tender for solar systems, in particular. The ADEME (French Environment & Energy Management Agency) verified the results. This allows our customers to reduce the ecological footprint of their solar modules considerably and verify this achievement when answering invitations to tender in France. The first customer received a corresponding certificate in August 2018.
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 the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 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, as it increases their mechanical strength and protects them from freeze/thaw damage and road salt.
ETONIS® is used in the construction of what are known as sponge cities, a concept that is of particular importance in countries such as China. This innovative road engineering technique helps to prevent 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 consist 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; available in German 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.
No organic solvents are used in WACKER’s VAE technology. And the reason is the chemical structure: VAE copolymers are hydrophilic (water-loving). So, instead of organic solvents, water can serve as the film-forming aid.
Examples of products introduced in the reporting period:
- We manufacture our VINNAPAS® EZ 3011 dispersion for low-emission interior paints without the use of APEOs, plasticizers, film-forming aids or solvents. It has a low formaldehyde content of less than 20 ppm. The low-odor dispersion can be used to produce formulations with a low VOC content of less than 1 g/l.
- A dispersion based on vinyl acetate and ethylene (VAE), VINNAPAS® EP 3360 is suitable for matte and semi-matte wall paints and plasters that exhibit high scrub resistance and hiding power. It has a very low residual monomer content (< 200 ppm) and formaldehyde content (< 20 ppm). It requires neither organic solvents nor coalescing agents. It thus lends itself to the formulation of low-odor paints that have a low volatile-organic-compound content (VOC < 1 g/l). The dispersion is ideal for locations where paints with low emission values are a must, such as children’s bedrooms, hotels and public buildings (e.g. hospitals and schools).
SILRES® 710 is WACKER’s highly effective, concentrated anti-graffiti agent. Thanks to the permanent, elastic, protective silicone film that it forms, graffiti can be easily washed off with water, while stickers, posters and signs can be removed effortlessly. The product contains no organotin compounds or oximes, and is formulated with low solvent.
Binders Made of Renewable Raw Materials
More and more customers in construction, paints, adhesives, textiles and the paper industry value the use of renewable raw materials. We can meet that wish, as our approach to sustainability begins right at the raw-material stage.
Since this reporting period, we have been using renewable resources to manufacture commercial quantities not only of dispersions based on vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (VAE), but also of further products based on vinyl acetate – all marketed under the VINNAPAS® brand. WACKER uses two methods for producing binders based on renewable resources, which we are marketing under the new product line. VINNECO®
The first method uses bio-acetic acid, which occurs as a byproduct in the timber industry. WACKER applies the biomass balance method to verify the proportion of bio-acetic acid in the finished product. The method, which we are applying in vinyl acetate-ethylene production, has been certified by the TÜV SÜD international technical inspectorate in accordance with the global CMS 71 standard. This independent certification assures our customers that we replaced the required quantities of fossil resources with an equivalent amount of renewables for our biomass-balanced products.
The wood originates from sustainably managed forests that are certified by the PEFC® (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes). The bio-based acetic acid meets WACKER’s quality standards and is characterized by high purity and color compatibility, as well as low water content. Chemically and physically, the bio-acetic acid is identical to the conventional, fossil-based one.
Mixing both types of acetic acid does not affect the end product’s properties. All of these aspects favor the biomass-balance method, which can be used to calculate how much VAE dispersion was produced from renewable and, thus, non-fossil raw materials. With our binders based on renewables, our customers can ensure that the required amount of bio-acetic acid that comes solely from certified producers has entered their production loop.
Starch from Potato Processing
For the second method, WACKER is cooperating with Dynaplak, a Dutch company. Among the materials used in the production of VINNECO® dispersions is starch, which is a side-stream product of potato processing. The experts at Dynaplak employ an innovative technology to modify the starch and so enhance its performance. WACKER and Dynaplak then combine the enhanced product with polymers based on vinyl acetate-ethylene to create a new, hybrid binder. The modified biopolymer accounts for 30 percent of the new product. This means that the VAE content, which is usually produced from fossil raw materials, can be reduced by around one-third. As a result, the manufactured product has a lower carbon footprint.
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.
The water-repellent VINNAPAS® 760 ED dispersion does not need any solvents, plasticizers, film-forming aids or alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs). Launched during the period under review, this product is used to waterproof indoor pools, basements and bathrooms, for example. According to an assessment by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), it is suitable for contact with drinking water.
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.
With , WACKER SILICONES has established a BELSIL® ecoproduct line for silicone fluids that are produced using biomethanol obtained from renewable resources such as straw or grass clippings. These silicone fluids, which were introduced in the period under review, find use in personal-care products.
The designation “eco” means that we only use renewable raw materials and silicon in the production of BELSIL® silicone fluids. Though our BELSIL® eco products have the same properties as silicone fluids made with petroleum-derived raw materials, they have a more favorable carbon footprint.
The international TÜV SÜD technical inspectorate has certified our mass balance method for verifying the use of renewable raw materials in silicones manufacturing. We thus have a recognized procedure for tracking the use of renewable raw materials throughout the production process, as far as the end product. Since we also use plant-based methanol in our production, we can offer exclusively biomethanol-based silicone fluids.
Our BELSIL® DM 5700 E silicone emulsion is suitable for use in sulfate-free shampoos. Launched during the reporting period, this product contains an emulsifying system that consists of an alkyl polyglycoside and sorbitan laurate. These nonionic surfactants are based on renewable raw materials and make the new emulsion particularly mild and gentle on the skin.
Medicine and Pharmaceuticals
Medical technology is another area in which we have launched several products during the reporting period.
Thanks to their electroactive properties, our extremely thin ELASTOSIL® Film precision silicone films can make movement visible in functional textiles. If such films are used as components in electrical systems to convert an applied voltage into movement, they enable, e.g. in the field of medicine, the design of very precise and efficient pumps or the development of artificial muscles.
Our 3D printing process for silicones, which we offer under the ACEO® brand, facilitates applications for the automotive, aerospace and mechanical-engineering industries, but also the manufacture of medical and health-care products, e.g. printing of organ parts.
Coldplasmatech (website available in German only), a company based in Greifswald, northeastern Germany, that works with WACKER’s SILPURAN® range of silicones for medical applications, has won the 2018 German Innovation prize in the startups category. The competition is an initiative set up by various companies and is sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Coldplasmatech has developed an innovative wound treatment process using cold plasma. This is an electrically charged gas that can sterilize wounds and promote healing. Multi-resistant bacteria that fail to respond to antibiotics can be destroyed by contact with cold plasma. Coldplasmatech has developed devices that work with large silicone dressings in order to treat large wounds, e.g. for bedridden patients.
Our film entitled “Biotechnology – Chemistry for Life” provides insights into the activities of our WACKER BIOSOLUTONS.
During the period under review, we received approval from the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) to manufacture the active agent in a thrombolysis drug. Wacker Biotech GmbH produces the pharmaceutical Reteplase – the active ingredient in the drug Retavase®, which pharmaceutical company Chiesi markets in the USA. The medication is used to treat acute heart attacks. Wacker Biotech has transferred the manufacturing process for the active Reteplase to its GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) plant in Halle an der Saale (eastern Germany).
With FOLDTEC®, our E. coli-based refolding technology, we make the production of highly pure pharmaceutical proteins without the use of antibiotics possible. During the reporting period, Wacker Biotech revised one of Fresenius Medical Care’s processes and, with FOLDTEC®, made industrial-scale production of the GMP process possible with higher yields and greater purity. The antibody fragment made in this process is used in medication for apheresis treatment.
In 2017, we presented results depicting how our nature-identical hydroxytyrosol HTEssence® affects coronary health. A human clinical study demonstrates that HTEssence® is able to significantly reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Reducing LDL has been found to support heart health. High LDL levels are one factor contributing to coronary heart diseases and atherosclerosis.
Hydroxytyrosol is a highly effective antioxidant found in olives with positive effects on blood pressure, joints and the immune and cardiovascular systems. Wacker Biotech produces its nature-identical hydroxytyrosol free of unwanted byproducts and with a defined amount of active ingredient. HTEssence® can be processed in food supplements or beverages. The US NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) estimates that each 1-percent reduction in LDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart disease by 1 to 2 percent. Accordingly, an LDL cholesterol reduction of 8 percent may reduce the risk for heart diseases by 8 percent or more.
FERMOPURE® is WACKER’s brand name for its activities relating to amino acids. At the new site in León, Spain, we manufacture L-cystine – the starting material for L-cysteine – by fermentation. Due to their entirely plant-based and inorganic raw materials, WACKER cystine and cysteine are purely vegan. Any potential contamination due to animal or human pathogens is thus eliminated. They are suitable for use in food and pharmaceutical products, finding use as a raw material in flavorings, as additives in baked goods and in baby and toddler products. Nutritional supplements contain cystine and cysteine for strengthening the skin, hair and nails. The pharmaceutical sector uses cysteine in expectorants or to produce insulin, for example.
Coenzyme Q10, a vitamin-like molecule, and curcumin, an extract from turmeric, can increase not only general performance, but also muscular endurance and regeneration, and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. Moreover, curcumin is an antioxidant that is capable of lowering inflammatory markers after exercise and of delaying the onset of sore muscles. However, both substances are only sparingly soluble in water and difficult for the human body to absorb. Cyclodextrins can boost their bioavailability, for example, curcumin complexed with cyclodextrins is 40 times that of the pure extract obtained from turmeric. Curcumin, which is fat-soluble, is encapsulated by the water-soluble gamma-cyclodextrin, yielding a complex that forms a molecular dispersion in water. CAVACURMIN® can be processed not only to dry or powdered dietary supplements, such as tablets, capsules and energy bars, but also in beverages.
Our CAVAQ10® coenzyme-Q10 complex is a sports nutrition supplement. Coenzyme Q10 is present in every human cell, where its function is to efficiently transform ingested food into energy. Studies have linked the ingestion of coenzyme Q10 with enhanced performance and delayed onset of fatigue. Cyclodextrins enhance the stability of the substances and improves absorption by the body.
A human clinical trial by WACKER partner Cyclochem in Japan showed that coenzyme-Q10-gamma-cyclodextrin complexes protect muscle cells by functioning as free-radical scavengers and antioxidants. The evidence for this took the form of reduced levels of biomarkers in the blood after administration. Normally, these markers are increased as a result of tissue damage.
VINNAPAS® EF 3101 is a vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) copolymer dispersion that we developed for rotogravure paper coatings of superior print quality. We produce this binder without the use of alkylphenol ethoxylate (APEO) surfactants. The product meets the specifications of several environmental standards, e.g. the EU Ecolabel for graphic paper, and of food-contact regulations of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR Recommendations XIV and XXXVI) and the US Food and Drug Administration (21CFR176.170/180).
In VINNAPAS® EP 400 E, we launched a dispersion for paper and packaging adhesives on the market during the period under review that we produce with a low formaldehyde content of less than 20 ppm.
Our GENIOSIL® XM 20 and GENIOSIL® XM 25 binders enable adhesives and sealants manufacturers to do without the use of conventional plasticizers. These polymers, which we also introduced in the reporting period, improve the bonding properties of plasticizer-free adhesives.
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 Africa and Asia. Thanks to the SILFOAM® single-rinse technology, our anti-foaming agent eliminates the need in detergents for more than one rinse step. This saves as much as 50 percent water – corresponding to a total of 180 million liters during the reporting period, based on the amounts sold primarily in South Africa and India, which are key markets.