Herne, Germany-Degussa AG's Coatings & Colorants Business Unit has laid the cornerstone for expansion of its isophorone production unit in Herne. Degussa plans to expand its entire isophorone chemicals production line at Herne. Derivatives isophorone diamine and isophorone diisocyanate-produced from isophorone over several reaction stages-are sold by Degussa as Vestamin and Vestanat. Vestamin is used in, for example, solvent-free coatings for industrial flooring, while Vestanat is used to make light- and weather-stable automotive paints and high-quality parts for automotive interiors. Isophorone itself is used as a special solvent. The Herne unit is scheduled to begin operating in the 2007, following an expansion which involves an investment "in the high double-digit million euro range," said Degussa's statement. The new units are yet another milestone for Herne, and proof of Degussa's confidence in this production site," " said Dr Hans-Peter Schaufler, new head of the Coatings & Colorants Business Unit. On 17 Feb 2006, Prof Dr Utz-Hellmuth Felcht, Degussa's chairman, Dr Manfred Spindler, board member for Specialty Materials and Schaufler, welcomed guests to the formal laying of the cornerstone. "All in all, the Herne site has received investment appropriations in the three-digit million euro range in the last few years. This shows that Degussa is planning something big in Herne," said Prof Felcht.Degussa claims to be the global market leader in all stages of isophorone chemistry. The company operates three production lines, one in Mobile, Alabama, and two at the Herne site, where some 350 people work. Degussa pointed out that, apart from safeguarding existing jobs in Herne, the new units will allow the creation of several dozen direct and indirect jobs at the site."