"We are a global player in the carbon black business," says Dr Rainer Panenka, who is in charge of Degussa-Hüls Technical Market Management Rubber Applications.
"We think we are well positioned today. Our goal is to stay among the biggest carbon black producers in the world. We want to continue to grow in markets where we are not sufficiently strong. Since we are the biggest producer in Europe, we plan primarily to grow in Asia and South America."
"Global growth of the carbon black market is currently at 2%," continues Dr Panenka. "In Eastern Europe, growth is 4% to 5% and in Western Europe approximately 1%. The printing inks market is growing by 3% globally."
Most of Degussa-Hüls' carbon black production is sold to the world's tyre industry, which has a global growth of about 2%. Growth in Asia, however, stands at around 4%.
The world's biggest producer of speciality chemicals
Degussa-Hüls is an international chemicals company which focuses on specialty chemicals and has headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1999 the company had 45000 employees and sales totaling 10 billion Euro.
In the New Year, Degussa-Hüls will merge with SKW Trostberg. The new company, which will be named Degussa, will be the world’s largest specialty chemicals producer, with 63000 employees and sales of around 15 billion Euro.
Degussa-Hüls currently has 16 divisions organized into four segments. The Performance Materials segment contains the Advanced Fillers & Pigments division which has the production of carbon black as one of its core activities. The company owns, or is the majority owner of 26 production plants – 15 of them producing carbon black-spread over 17 countries and four continents.
Degussa-Hüls has been active in the acquisition of carbon black plants around the world since the 1980s. Two factories were bought in South Korea in 1999 and this year one was acquired in Poland. egussa-Hüls is currently the world's second biggest producer of carbon black. In August 2000, the company's total production of around 1.2 million metric tons made up almost 14% of the world production of close to 9 million metric tons.
Of all carbon black that is produced, over 90% is used in various rubber applications, mainly tyres. Less than 10% is used for pigment and other non-rubber applications.
Degussa-Hüls is also the world's second largest producer of carbon black for the printing ink market with production in three factories. One of these is in the German town of Kalscheuren just outside Cologne. Annual production at Kalscheuren totals 150000 metric tons. The factory is Germany's oldest for the production of carbon black and was bought by Degussa-Hüls in 1936. Today only specialty products are produced in Kalscheuren.