This year, Chimcomplex will open the most modern polyol plant in Central Europe, after an investment of EUR 40 million at Oltchim. Stefan Vuza, the president of the company, tells Business Review how operations carried out by Chimcomplex are consolidating Romania’s position on the map of global chemistry industry giants.
By Anda Sebesi
What can you tell us about the inauguration of the newest polyol plant in the region, in Ramnicu Valcea?
This year we are going to complete our investments in the newest and most efficient polyol plant in the region, worth almost EUR 40 million. This will increase our production capacity to over 140,000 tonnes/year, and we will be among the top 8 players in Europe by volume. Polyols are used in a variety of sustainable applications, from wind turbine blades to insulation materials for the construction industry. At least 10 polyols produced at Oltchim can be found in any apartment.
Our special polyol plant is designed with high-performance features in terms of digitalization, energy efficiency, and disposal of manufacturing waste. Its annual production capacity will be the equivalent of 3,500 km of new 2x2m flexible mattresses. The new plant will benefit from the exceptional work carried out by our team from the Polyols Centre for Advanced Research and Development, which has an experience of over 40 years of operation and cooperation with Romanian customers and laboratories as well as international universities and research institutions.
Is chemistry research still being carried out in Romania?
It certainly is. We are specialised in polyols, and in order to stay in the lead, we’ve had to do constant research and innovation. Oltchim has always conducted and financed research in polyols, and we have also designed and built polyether production facilities and contributed to the attainment of over 80 patents, which allowed the export of polyethers to over 43 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Innovation projects and the flexibility of development teams are the company’s top strengths. Today, we have conducting research for 14 new patents. Just to give you an example, we are talking about polyols from vegetable oils, i.e. polyols that use castor oil as a raw material.
Chimcomplex-Oltchim has a strong focus on innovation. How do you keep up with giants in western Europe?
Tradition and experience matter and Romania has been – and continues to be – a giant in the world of chemistry. This is how Chimcomplex has managed to become a strategic company for the national economy as well as a champion of the chemical industry, and it has the right infrastructure to begin moving Romania towards a green future.
We want Romania to become one of the biggest Hydrogen Hubs in Europe. Our plan involves several phases, which will transform both our production systems, making them completely green, as well as the energy sources we use, turning into a country project worth over EUR 1 billion. We are also innovative in terms of the chemical recycling we have been doing for several years now. In 2020 alone, we recycled over 1,000 tonnes of hydrochloric acid. We are one of the top three companies in the EU that have such projects, along with giants Covestro and Dow.
The European Union has indicated that it will only support industries whose carbon footprint is diminished by investments in new technologies. What are Chimcomplex propose in this new context?
We capture and reprocess over 5.400 tonnes of CO2 every year. Chimcomplex-Oltchim absorbs CO2 emitted by other industries and uses it in chemical processes alongside green (and newer) blue or gray hydrogen. We will continue to invest in new technologies in order to increase the CO2 mass we are able to capture and we will reprocess it into 12 finished products, through 6 production lines.Our new plant will produce polyols which use CO2 as a raw material in order to reduce carbon footprint, resulting in significant environmental benefits. In essence, we will be among the top 10 companies in the world that are manufacturing polyols without causing pollution.