Orchem Reda SA supplies specialty minerals from global leader Sibelco
Little-known nepheline syenite and aluminum trihydrate offer unique features
ORCHEM group has extended its supply operation with a number of specialty materials added to its range since joining the Reda Chemicals group in 2018, the little-known nepheline syenite and aluminum trihydrate being standout examples of this.
These materials, which few outside of the loop will have even heard of, perform vital functions: Nepheline syenite, because of its extremely low melting point and high alumina content, is used as a functional filler in coatings and polymers; and aluminum trihydrate (ATH) is used as a flame retardant.
Both materials are supplied by Sibelco of the Netherlands, a world leading material solutions supplier based in the Netherlands. Reda Chemicals has been representing Sibelco for some time, and Orchem Reda Chemicals SA now in turn supplies these specialties to compounders, masterbatch and additives manufacturers in South Africa.
Orchem was up till recently a name virtually synonymous with the South African rubber sector, having been a key supplier to the tyre, belting and rubber technical goods manufacturers for close to six decades since the business was established in 1964. Under the management of Andre Cornelius since 2011, Orchem has followed a pattern of steady growth. A key step in that process was its purchase by Reda Chemicals of Dubai in 2018. Reda is an integrated distributor of specialty chemicals to the market in Asia, the Middle East, India, and Africa.
Orchem thus gained access to the far wider range of materials and intermediate products supplied by Reda into sectors where it had not been involved, including the coatings & construction, food, life sciences, oil/gas/petrochemicals and – last but not least – the plastics, coatings, rubber, and advanced materials sectors. The latter had been core business for Orchem, but it has made the transition to the wider market with seeming ease, partly due to the appointment of a number of key personnel. In the case of the polymers business, that person is Tyron Brand, a man with considerable experience in the masterbatch and additives area.
Sibelco was founded in 1872, initially supplying silica sand from deposits in Flanders to Belgium’s major glass producers. Today, Sibelco is a global material solutions business, operating 118 production sites in 31 countries and employing over 5,000 people.
The main material from Sibelco supplied by Orchem-Reda is nepheline syenite. Mined in Norway, nepheline syenite is a mineral noted for its low iron content and high chemical stability. It is a quartz-free aluminium silicate. It primarily comprises nepheline, microcline and albite. With an extremely low melting point and high alumina content, nepheline syenite is used as a flux to lower melting temperatures in glass as well as a functional filler in coatings and polymers. It promotes faster melting at lower temperatures whilst at the same time decreasing viscosity, thus enabling processors to reduce energy consumption.
Thanks to a naturally high alumina content, nepheline syenitee can deliver the same results as alternative products but using between 20-30% less volume of material. It is thus also used in colour concentrate applications.
Aluminum trihydrate (ATH) is initially derived from bauxite ore before being refined into a fine white powder. Characteristics include high purity, high whiteness, and relatively low density (2.4g/cm³) compared to other mineral fillers and has a decomposition temperature of around 180°C, at which point it releases moisture – which makes it an excellent halogen-free flame retardant.