March 22 is World Water Day

A highlight of the LANXESS Water Year 2010

Using chemistry and know-how to protect an essential resource

A growing world population, environmental pollution, climate change and wells that are drying up will make water as valuable as oil in the next few decades. First called into being by the United Nations in 1992, World Water Day on March 22 serves as a reminder that the elixir of life is a scarce resource in many parts of the globe. "At LANXESS, we have named 2010 the Water Year – and this day is one of the highlights," says Axel C. Heitmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of LANXESS AG. "World Water Day gives us an opportunity to reaffirm the need to adopt a responsible attitude in dealing with a resource that is crucial to our very existence." 

LANXESS is aiming to draw attention to the world’s water issues by launching activities at its sites around the globe. Projects in Germany will include school children from North Rhine-Westphalia working together from March 22 to 24 to develop concepts based on the EU water guidelines as part of the LANXESS education initiative. "We want to encourage school children to think outside the scientific box. After all, the equal distribution of water doesn't just pose a technical problem, it's often also a social issue," comments Rainier van Roessel, Member of the Board of Management and Industrial Relations Director of LANXESS AG. The company is also planning to run further school projects in South Africa, India and the United States during the year to help school children develop solutions for local water issues.

In India, representatives from business and politics will come together at a water symposium to discuss ways of tackling water pollution in the country. At other sites in China, South Africa and the United States, LANXESS will initiate talks to discuss local water problems and devise much-needed solutions. The company will pool the results in a single global document.

Commitment in Bangladesh and Tanzania

The positive experience of the "Water Purification in Bangladesh" project launched in 2006 with students from the University of Cottbus has inspired LANXESS to work with young people to develop solutions. This project is devoted to filtering arsenic out of drinking water. Some very high concentrations of arsenic occur in the groundwater in many regions of Asia, but also in the United States and South America. Arsenic pollution is one of the most dangerous forms of drinking water contamination. In these regions, it is not unusual for measurements of several milligrams of arsenic per liter to be recorded. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that water should contain no more than 10 micrograms – a concentration one thousand times weaker. Now in operation in Bangladesh, mobile filter systems filled with iron oxide Bayoxide E33 from LANXESS are easy to use and purify the water quickly and cost-effectively.

In Africa, too, people are reliant on support to ensure they have access to drinking water. In 2008, LANXESS and the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) launched a joint project with the aim of cutting the high disease and mortality rate in Tanzania resulting from unclean water and inadequate hygiene. Through a combination of financial support and LANXESS expertise, 25 schools are being equipped with rainwater treatment systems and sanitary facilities. Once the project is completed, around 10,000 children will benefit from access to clean water and hygienic sanitation. 

Combining tradition and innovation to solve global water issues

LANXESS products are in use worldwide in virtually every branch of industry to treat water and ensure this valuable raw material is used efficiently. This applies equally to drinking water, wastewater, groundwater and the water used in industrial processes. For over seven decades, high-performance ion exchange resins from the Lewatit range have played their part in resolving water issues worldwide. Among other things, the exchange resins remove toxic impurities from drinking water, such as heavy metals, and other harmful substances including nitrates, arsenic and borate. Ion exchange resins are also an integral part of industrial processes in which vast amounts of water can be saved through water recycling. Lewatit products also have a broad range of application in wastewater treatment in the metal-processing industry, for example. In addition, they can be used to treat groundwater, primarily by removing chromate and cyanides. "At its site in Bitterfeld, Germany, LANXESS with its significant investment of EUR 30 million in membrane filtration technology, will be in a position to offer additional water treatment products as of 2011, thus expanding our already strong market position," states Heitmann.

Dripping taps in many industrialized countries lead to the loss of more drinking water than some regions of the world have available to supply the entire local population. When it comes to transferring liquids flexibly from one location to another or sealing moving parts in machines, rubber is virtually indispensable. As one of the world's leading manufacturers of synthetic rubber, the products supplied by LANXESS include Buna EP for elastic rubber seals in dishwashers and EPDM membranes used during biological treatment stages in water treatment plants, and heat-, pressure- and chemical-resistant high-performance seals made of Therban for household appliances and industrial applications.

LANXESS also provides innovative water softening solutions. Wherever water is required – in industry or in the home – dispersing and complexing agents are needed to ensure it can be used more efficiently. Biodegradable products from the Baypure range prevent the build-up of limescale in washing machines and dishwashers, dissolve stubborn furring in drainage pipes and assist in oil extraction. 

"However, LANXESS is more than just a recognized supplier of specialty chemicals, ion exchange resins and synthetic rubbers. We also share our expertise with our customers," points out Heitmann. "That's another way we can help them save water and, in particular, reduce the contamination of wastewater. Given the rising cost of wastewater treatment, this makes production processes more cost-effective." For example, numerous products developed for use in leather production create a much more efficient manufacturing process from an ecological perspective, thereby reducing wastewater contamination. They also help to reduce the volume of water used during the manufacture of leather.

Acting responsibly to conserve natural resources

For LANXESS, conserving natural resources through the most efficient possible use of raw materials and energies, and achieving cuts in emissions and waste is an ongoing mission. That mission is part of its global corporate commitment to mankind and the environment.  "Our know-how and our products are helping to purify water, save water and ensure this essential resource is used more responsibly worldwide," says Heitmann. Examples that support this claim can be found in all corners of the globe, including Porto Feliz in Brazil, Jinshan in China, La Wantzenau in France and Nagda in India.

Iron oxide production in Porto Feliz, for example, now consumes up to 50 percent less water than just a few years ago. The LANXESS iron oxide plant in China is a further example of Responsible Care in practice. Opened in 2007, it is one of the very first such facilities in China to have a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system. On top of this, the specialty chemicals group manages to save up to 1.5 million liters of water here each year through intelligent use of cooling water. 

In La Wantzenau, LANXESS started to take wastewater treatment technology to a new level back in 2006. Following investment worth approximately EUR 5.5 million, the company's engineers were able to reduce the solids content of the wastewater by around 40 percent. At its site in Nagda, LANXESS went as far as to collect wastewater from the surrounding area in order to clean it and use it as process water. This initiative earned LANXESS an award from the Indian Chemical Council

Heitmann concludes: "Our goal is to initiate and support developments, but also to be proactive in seeking solutions as far as our economic capabilities permit – after all, manufacturing methods that conserve resources are of benefit to us, too." 

Further information about the LANXESS Water Year 2010 is available at: https://lanxess.de/en/water/

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by LANXESS AG management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

Information for editors:

All LANXESS news releases and their accompanying photos can be found at http://corporate.lanxess.de/en/media/press-releases/.  Recent photos of the Board of Management and other LANXESS image material are available at http://fotos.lanxess.de/index_en.html. The latest TV footage, audiofiles and podcasts can be found at http://corporate.lanxess.com/en/media/audio-video/

You can find further information concerning LANXESS chemistry in our WebMagazine at http://webmagazine.lanxess.com


LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 5.06 billion in 2009 and currently around 14,300 employees in 23 countries. The company is represented at 43 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.


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