125 Years of Rhein Chemie
Rhein Chemie Rheinau GmbH, Mannheim, Germany, a wholly owned subsidiary of specialty chemicals company Lanxess, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Rhein Chemie develops, produces and sells additives, specialty chemicals and service products for the rubber, lubricant and plastics industries. In fiscal 2013 Rhein Chemie achieved sales of EUR 346 million and has approximately 1,100 employees worldwide. The company is headquartered in Mannheim, Germany and has production facilities in Europe, Asia and North and South America.
Now a business unit of Lanxess, it was founded by two young chemists, Dr. Albert Müller and Dr. Hermann Dubois, and entered in Mannheim District Court’s register of companies on June 8, 1889. However, it was Dubois’ other partner Victor Kaufmann who was responsible for the fledgling company taking the initial steps in its current direction. As early as 1902, he gained a foothold in the up-and-coming rubber sector with a product made from a renewable raw material. Alongside customer orientation, quality and innovation, sustainability has thus been playing a key role in Rhein Chemie’s success story for well over a century. Brands such as Rhenogran, Stabaxol and Additin have made it a popular choice for customers on the rubber, plastics and lubricants markets. The current product portfolio continues to help these sectors conserve scarce resources and develop more environmentally friendly products.
“Nowadays, Victor Kaufmann would without doubt be seen as a visionary,” says Dr. Anno Borkowsky, CEO and President of Rhein Chemie Rheinau GmbH. “The company actually started off by producing chlorine chemicals, among other things for cleaning purposes, but then an unexpected opportunity arose in 1886 when Carl Benz developed the first automobile in Mannheim. Kaufmann predicted the huge success of this invention and immediately recognized how important it would be for the rubber industry,” he adds. The company changed course and, shortly after the turn of the century, Kaufmann and Dubois started producing factice – an extender for the valuable resource of natural rubber.
Kaufmann died in 1933 at the age of 62, shortly after joining forces with like-minded people to found the DKG (German Rubber Association), an institution that is still important today. But the company he helped to shape continued to enjoy rapid growth. Its name was only changed from Dubois & Kaufmann to Rhein Chemie GmbH in 1941. Production of processing promoters for the rubber industry started in the mid-1930s and the first technical application laboratory was set up in Mannheim in 1953. As Borkowsky points out, “that was something completely new to the industry. The findings obtained here were published in detailed technical reports and proved very popular with rubber processors."
Rhein Chemie’s rubber know-how and innovative products soon enabled it to make a name for itself outside Germany, too. By 1956, the company was already active in 11 European countries. Rhein Chemie was also quick to move into the plastics sector. The first antihydrolysis agents for polyurethanes were launched in the early 1970s under the brand name Stabaxol and this product, too, has benefited from ongoing optimization ever since. Available in liquid, solid and masterbatch form, the additive now protects a whole host of polymers with important technical applications – including polyurethane, TPE, TPU, PET, PA and EVA – against premature aging caused by hydrolysis. Over recent decades, Stabaxol has become Rhein Chemie’s most important product for the plastics industry. It even offers a product line called BioAdimide to protect biopolymers against hydrolysis.
Rhein Chemie Rheinau GmbH
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