ADIPEC 2023 - Fuelling the future
Fumed silica, also known as pyrogenic silica, is in high demand. Produced in a flame, it is used across building and construction, electronics and transportation and a wide range of everyday products from paint to plant protection and personal care and beauty.
In 2016, one of the world’s most innovative chemical companies, WAKER, sought the support of a leading engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCm) firm which shared WAKER’s vision for seeking intelligent and sustainable solutions.
The proposed scope included the design and construction of a $150MM Total Installed Cost HDK® fumed silica plant at WACKER’s mega-site in Charleston, Tennessee.
In late 2016, Wood was awarded the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract, and subsequently the full EPCm services in May, 2017.
Once completed, the plant would strengthen WAKER’S market position and expand its supply capacity in the U.S. – the world’s second-largest chemicals market. The product it would go on to produce was also synonymous with both companies’ sustainability goals with a resource-friendly eco-loop, the recycling of hydrogen chloride and successful CO2 savings making HDK® the most sustainable pyrogenic silica available. The fumed silica facility would also complement an existing plant and enhance WAKER’s flexibility in processing and production of byproducts, avoiding waste.
WACKER needed a company with strong project and chemical sector experience as well as working knowledge of WAKER’s preferred internal systems, such as design database COMOS and 3D model software, PDS. Global procurement experience and the ability to acquire major equipment, as well as a strong construction management team who could manage construction subcontract bidding and selection and overall material and site logistics, was also essential.
Wood’s project team delivered engineering for the Balance of Plant (BOP), integrating three vendor design-build packages and acting as the general contractor for the project.
Four months into the execution phase, WACKER had an incident which required its entire production of polysilicon at the mega-site be shut down. Wood mobilised a team to lead and execute the demolition, engineering and restoration efforts for the facility, which included a 20% expansion.
The main plant was restored to full production at a rapid pace with no impact to the project. The plant made on-spec product in its first run and the project was completed 15% under budget.