Five tanks — each with a capacity of more than 20,000 gallons — traveled from Europe to become part of the local site’s high-tech production system for hyperpure polysilicon.
Two days were dedicated to preparation of the unloading dock and transportation of the tanks from a barge in Charleston to the company’s construction site. A crane over 130 feet tall lifted each tank individually from the barge, placing it on a truck for travel.
“We have taken utmost care to ensure the highest safety actions and environmental care in the transport of these tanks,” said Dr. Martin Richtberg, vice president of engineering and head of the Wacker Polysilicon construction project. “Planning for the tanks’ arrival began last year, as every aspect was thoroughly examined and coordinated — the cranes used to lift and place the tanks, the barge for water travel, the truck used for transport to the site … it is important to Wacker that all elements of the project are safe and environmentally responsible.”
He added, “The tanks are double-walled and have specialized coatings that support our production process. They have been engineered to ensure long-term quality and integrity. Wacker is committed to protection of the environment, our employees and the community.”
Dr. Konrad Bachhuber, vice president and site manager for Wacker Polysilicon North America, pointed to the significance of this week’s events.
“This arrival represents a major milestone in the construction of our plant,” Bachhuber said. “The tanks have a central function in Wacker Polysilicon’s unique production process.”
Ulrich Dankerl, project manager and lead logistics/engineering for the project, concurred.
“Every detail of the transportation chain must fit with each other perfectly,” Dankerl said. “Communication and planning, especially with such a complex chain, are key components of successful transportation.”
The tanks arrived in the U.S. at a port in Mobile, Ala. After passing customs, quality and damage checks, the tanks travelled by barge along the Mississippi, Tennessee and Hiawassee rivers.
Smaller equipment continues to arrive at the site on almost a daily basis. In March 2012, a small tank weighing approximately 10 tons was delivered, and more tanks are planned for the project.
Wacker Polysilicon is a global leader in the production of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon. Its product portfolio also includes pyrogenic silica, chlorosilanes and salt. Polysilicon is used throughout the semiconductor industry and in the growing photovoltaics sector. In 2010, the Wacker Polysilicon division of Wacker Chemie AG generated around 25 percent of the company’s sales.
The north Bradley County site is scheduled to begin operation by the end of 2013. The plant will employ some 650 full-time workers.