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Innovative chemicals for a sustainable future


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The cupboard under the sink in most household kitchens contains a chemistry set of different chemicals for cleaning and household care. Consumers are increasingly being encouraged to turn down the temperature dial on dishwashers and washing machines to reduce energy consumption and protect the environment. However, they still want perfect cleaning results. This is where products such as WeylClean® MnTACN make the difference.

“WeylClean® MnTACN is a catalytic additive that activates the cleaning reactions in dishwasher detergents at very low temperatures,” explains President Dr. Uwe Brunk. “We have similar products for laundry detergents so that where previously fabrics needed to be washed at 90°C for effective stain removal, the same washing effect can be achieved at temperatures as low as 25°C. That saves energy, conserves water resources and contributes to sustainability.”

Additionally to the existing products, WeylChem increased its potential for innovation in this field by acquiring Catexel Technologies Ltd.

Care chemicals for personal hygiene, home care and industrial cleaning applications are just half of the story at WeylChem. The other half concerns its activities as a recognized custom manufacturer of fine chemicals for the agriculture, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, electronics and speciality chemicals sectors. WeylChem is also known for its intermediates and reagents, which are used by customers worldwide as starting materials for various applications and markets.

“Thanks to the different companies within the group, we have a very broad portfolio of products and the accompanying expertise,” says Dr. Brunk. “When it comes to advanced intermediates, we are the world market leader for glyoxylic acid which is a precurser product in the production of the antibiotic drug amoxicillin. It is also used to make synthetic vanilla flavouring for the food industry.”

Dr. Brunk wrote his doctoral thesis on natural synthesis and is passionate about intermediate chemistry. This particular speciality traces its way like a continuous thread throughout his CV. In the late 1990s, he was responsible for new business development at Bayer AG and successfully built up its contract manufacturing business for the agricultural sector. Spells with Saltigo and CABB, both global chemicals specialists, were followed by consultancy work.

“The opportunities with WeylChem have been to work at the cutting edge of the chemical industry,” notes Dr. Brunk. “The company was founded in 2005 and since then we have grown rapidly through acquisitions.”

Today, the group comprises twelve separate companies in five countries, employing close to 2,000 people and generating 650 million EUR in annual turnover. “Thanks to the broad spectrum of expertise and production capacity within the group’s companies, my job is extremely varied,” says Dr. Brunk. “What is more, it offers me the opportunity to work on highly innovative projects.”

One example is a new product called Velvetol®, which is being developed together with a start-up venture. It is a special product used in, for example, 3D printing as well as sports shoe soles and the car industry. It will allow manufacturers to make customized products in a way that has never been possible before.

Dr. Uwe Brunk
We have products that ensure effective stain removal can be achieved at temperatures as low as 25°C. Dr. Uwe BrunkPresident

“WeylChem’s big advantage in the areas where it enjoys the greatest success lies in the fact that it has products that its competitors cannot offer, particularly joint developments with customers,” says Dr. Brunk. “This is our core competence, using technology to add value for our customers.”

The big challenge facing the chemical industry today and the focus of much of new development is the question of sustainability. “We must respond to increasing public pressure to reduce the environmental impact of human activity,” says Dr. Brunk. “Chemicals are rightly or wrongly seen as part of the problem, but we believe strongly that with our innovative approach and focus on more efficient products we can be part of the solution. Our focus in all areas of our business is on developing green solutions.”

This is why WeylChem is using its leading position in the market to work with innovative new start-up companies. “Start-ups are a major driver of innovation in the chemicals sector,” notes Dr. Brunk. “Working with and supporting them involves more risk but it also presents an opportunity to participate in the potential benefits of new developments.”

A key element in sustainability is recycling. WeylChem is working on the PURe Smart Project with leading manufacturers to develop a chemical recycling process for polyurethanes (mainly used in mattresses) that could begin to tackle the enormous problem of pollution.

With its experience and manufacturing capacity, WeylChem is a valuable partner to innovators in the sector as well as major household names. WeylChem has a unique spectrum of key technologies at its disposal and can scale up production from lab samples to pilot quantities right up to full industrial volumes.

Major production sites are located in France and Germany as well as the USA. Exports account for 50 to 60% of group turnover. Europe and North America play an important role but growth has also been strong in Asia, Japan, South Korea and China. Continued growth is the declared goal for the future.

“Our most recent addition was Chemie Bitterfeld Wolfen, an expert in custom manufacturing that supports WeylChem’s activities in this area with highly flexible production facilities and specific technological capacity,” says Dr. Brunk. “It brings us another step closer to our goal of creating a sustainable future with better chemistry.”

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