Belgian chemicals group Solvay SA has opened a new 100,000
tpa sodium bicarbonate plant in Thailand, the largest facility
of its kind in Southeast Asia.
The plant, which cost €20m ($22.67m*) and has taken
just under two years to construct and commission, is located at
Solvay’s existing site in Map Ta Phut, south of
Bangkok in Rayong province. Its products will serve growing
Asian markets for sodium bicarbonate in healthcare, food and
consumer goods, Solvay said.
"We saw Asia as a promising market for high quality sodium
bicarbonate applications," Christophe Clemente, president of
Solvay’s soda ash and derivatives global business
unit, told IM. "We decided to build a plant
[in Asia], rather than continuing to export sodium bicarbonate
from Europe as we had been doing previously, in order to be
closer to our customers."
"There is strong demand in Asia for high quality sodium
bicarbonate-based solutions with high traceability from the
pharmaceutical and food markets and also from consumer goods,"
He explained that although there is already significant
sodium bicarbonate capacity in China, there is very little
availability of high quality material. "When we decided to make
this investment, we were very conscious of our market
Clemente added that Solvay had chosen the Thai location
specifically because of the local market in the country but
also because of the "cost synergies" offered by building the
plant at the company’s existing site.
The new facility will use Solvay’s trademarked
BICAR production technology, which minimises waste and
maximises yield with optimal energy recovery. "In building the
plant, we have brought technical know-how in sodium bicarbonate
production into the Asian market," Clemente said.
According to Solvay, global demand for sodium bicarbonate is
robust and is particularly strong in Asia. Prices tend to be
brand or application specific and markets are determined by
segment rather than geography, but the current trend is
generally positive, according to Clemente.
In October last year, the company increased prices for all
industrial and feed grades of sodium bicarbonate in its SOLVAir
(used for treating airborne emissions) and BICAR products lines
by $20/s.ton for bulk material and $30/s.ton for packaged
material, citing higher manufacturing, transportation and raw
*Conversion made September 2015