Specialty chemicals are manufactured because of their performance or function. They can be single-chemical entities or formulations whose composition influences the performance and processing of the end product. Specialty chemistry produces these high-value chemicals, which are used in products vital to consumers and industry and subsequently serve a range of important markets including performance chemicals, agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Unlike commodity chemicals which may have dozens of different applications, a specialty chemical only has one or two core applications. In the global marketplace, there is a more diverse range of specialty chemicals, while commodity chemicals make up the majority weight of product volume.
Due to their complex chemistries and narrow range of applications, specialty chemicals are typically manufactured using a batch process. This is not necessarily automated, and has a distinct beginning and end point for each batch. Commodity chemicals are generally produced using continuous processes.
Batch processing is the manufacturing method used to create specialty chemicals, where a finite product quantity is made over a period of a few hours or days. The batch process typically consists of:
Specialty chemical manufacturers can be organized into three main categories: tollers, custom chemical producers and proprietary chemical producers. A company could operate in one, two or all arenas.
Specialty chemistry impacts every part of our lives, from our personal care products to our electronics and the cars we drive.
Did you know that seawater can be used in agriculture? LANXESS’s Lewabrane Reverse Osmosis membrane elements desalinate seawater to irrigate crops.
Strem Chemicals manufactures an active pharmaceutical ingredient that is formulated into an injectable drug to combat cancer.
Deepwater Chemicals, Inc., produces hydriodic acid and iodine. These are highly effective ingredients in teat dips, which prevent mastitis in dairy cows.
LANXESS makes an antioxidant, Vulkanox, which prevents creams from oxidizing when exposed to air, thus extending the shelf life of moisturizers.
Iodine chemicals are used in a range of everyday products including: catalysts for paint coatings, antiseptic scrubs for surgery, polarizers in LCD screens, nylon fibers/carpets, lenses for nuclear medicine and computer chip production.
How do we improve the durability of car tires? LANXESS makes Vulkacit, an additive that extends the shelf life of rubber.
Deepwater Chemicals, Inc., produces potassium iodide, a heat stabilizer utilized in nylon 66 production, which is used in manufacturing carpets, tire cords and plastics.
Biomedical Applications – Polysciences, Inc., supplies high purity acrylic monomers used in Class II-III implantable medical devices such as intraocular lenses, cardiovascular stents and meshes.
Monument Chemical manufactures polyether polyols used in products such as bowling balls.
Buna CB polybutadiene rubber, a synthetic rubber made by LANXESS, is used in the high-quality cores of golf balls, making the ball fly further than those made with conventional rubber.