Evonik Industries is expanding its capacity for refining fumed silica in Rheinfelden, Germany. The group will invest an amount in the low double-digit million euro range to expand the plant, which further processes hydrophilic silica to a hydrophobic variety. The expansion, scheduled to be operational in late 2020, is associated with Evonik’s effort to consistently expand its silica business for specialty applications.  “Our expansion in Rheinfelden is aimed at supporting the growth of existing application areas in highly specialized fields and at opening up new, innovative uses,” said Johannes Ohmer, member of the Board of Management of Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH. Hydrophobic fumed silica, which Evonik markets under the brand name Aerosil, offers low moisture absorption and excellent dispersibility. It is used for rheology control and as an anti-settling agent in coating systems, adhesive and sealant materials and as a thickener and anti-caking agent, for example in silicone rubber, toners and cosmetics.  “Rheinfelden is the parent plant for our hydrophobic fumed silicas,” added Andreas Fischer, head of the Silica Business Line. “We decided in favor of expanding the site because the investment will help us make even better use of existing facilities. In addition, the local process know-how and specific long-term experience with the construction and operation of the plants were essential considerations for us.” The investment will expand the company’s annual capacity for hydrophilic fumed silica at the existing Rheinfelden site by 20 percent. www.evonik.com