Integrated Production – Our Greatest Strength
The highly integrated material loops at its integrated production sites in Burghausen, Nünchritz, Charleston and Zhangjiagang give WACKER a key advantage. The basic principle of integrated production is to use the byproducts from one stage as starting materials for making other products. The auxiliaries required for this, such as silanes, are recycled in a closed loop. By taking waste heat from production processes and utilizing it for other chemical processes, we are reducing our consumption of energy and resources and using raw materials sustainably.
We are constantly working to optimize our integrated-production system. We also analyze and test ways of extending the circular economy so that we can feed materials from suppliers, customers and end consumers into this loop along with our own WACKER materials.
Our integrated production system encompasses the following:
- Integrated energy solutions in which waste heat generated in production is used in downstream chemical processes. Examples here include using waste heat to generate steam, preheating feed water for the production of deionized water and using integrated heat-recovery systems in distillation processes
- Integrated material systems, in which byproducts generated in a given process are treated and fed back into the production loop or serve as raw materials for other processes. Examples here include our integrated hydrogen chloride, silicon and acetic acid production systems
Our integrated production system is primarily based on rock salt, silicon, methanol, acetic acid and ethylene as starting materials. In integrated processes, we optimize material efficiency by purifying byproducts and reusing them or making them available for external use.
- In our integrated ethylene production system, we use ethylene to obtain organic intermediates, which we then turn into polymer dispersions and dispersible polymer powders.
- Our integrated silicon production system operates along similar lines. Although comprising only a small number of raw materials – silicon, methanol and salt (sodium chloride) – this system enables us to manufacture over 2,800 different silicone products, as well as pyrogenic silica and polysilicon.
A focus of our integrated production is to minimize hydrogen chloride (HCl) consumption. HCl is an essential auxiliary deployed in the production of reactive intermediates from energy-poor natural materials. We then use these intermediates to make our end products. Hydrogen chloride production requires a great deal of energy, however. In our integrated material loop, we convert chlorine-containing intermediates to chlorine-free end products (such as silicones, hyperpure silicon or pyrogenic silica) and in the process we obtain heating steam, thus recovering some of the original energy expended. We also reclaim hydrogen chloride here, which we return to the production loop and reuse. This closed material loop lowers emissions and, due to lower raw-material consumption, reduces shipments as well.
We use a chloralkali membrane process to supply chlorine, hydrogen, caustic soda and hydrogen chloride as starting materials to our Burghausen site. One example of how our integrated production system has the potential to save resources: We recycle 93 to 96 percent of the hydrogen chloride that we use in the production loops at our Burghausen and Nünchritz sites. More information can be found in our fact sheet: