Wacker restarts U.S. polysilicon plant after eight-month halt

Reopening ceremony for Wacker’s U.S. polysilicon plant in Charleston, Tennessee with Dr. Tobias Brandis, Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, Mary Beth Hudson, Dr. Peter-Alexander Wacker, and David Wilhoit (from left)
Wacker’s management (from left: Tobias Brandis, CEO Rudolf Staudigl, Mary Beth Hudson, Chairman Peter-Alexander Wacker and David Wilhoit) celebrated the reopening of the company’s U.S. polysilicon plant after a hydrogen explosion – Image: Wacker Chemie

After investigating the cause of the hydrogen explosion that occurred on September 7, 2017 and repairing the damaged equipment and building, Wacker has restarted production at its U.S. polysilicon plant near Charleston, Tennessee.

A 24-inch piston, which had replaced the original 20-inch head piston of a hydrogen compressor in a revamp, caused the explosion. Wacker consequently announced it would return to the original compressor design.

At the reopening ceremony on May 4, the chairman of the company’s supervisory board, Peter-Alexander Wacker, apologized “for any confusion or anxiety the incident may have caused.” He stressed “our aspiration of being a responsible and fully transparent corporate citizen – despite some opposite comments I read on social media.”

Although high duties have been imposed on polysilicon imports from the U.S. into China, the largest polysilicon market worldwide, Chairman Wacker reaffirmed that “Charleston definitely is and will remain a cornerstone of our global growth strategy. This site provides us with the necessary capacity to meet increasing demand for our polysilicon in the years ahead.”

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