Belgium: An anchorage for traditions
Belgium is a meeting point for politicians, businesspeople, and tourists from all over the world—not only because of its delicious pralines. It’s impressive because of its trilingual culture, its historical cities, and its function as the center of European politics. Belgium may be small, but its time-honored traditions combined with its openness to the world give it unique perspectives
Like a cruise ship, the dazzling superstructure towers above the former fire department barracks in Antwerp Harbor. The Havenhuis building, which was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is today the headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority. It symbolizes both the history and the future of Europe’s second-largest port. Goods from all over the world are transshipped in this harbor, which covers 25 square kilometers. That makes this northern Belgian city not only a center of trade but also an outstanding location for chemical production—and Evonik is one of the beneficiaries. The company’s huge production location in the middle of the harbor is not only globally connected but also part of a multi-location C4 production network along with Evonik’s biggest location, which is in Marl, Germany. C4 chemicals are byproducts of crude oil processing that are transformed by Evonik into high-quality chemical products.
Precise craftsmanship and a love of detail: Belgian pralines are renowned for their high quality and outstanding flavor. So it’s no surprise that the world’s biggest trading center for chocolate is located at Brussels Airport, outside the gates of the capital city. Here 1.5 kilograms of chocolate and pralines are sold to travelers every minute. One of the materials used by the chocolatiers to maintain the high standard of these tiny delicacies is potassium carbonate from Evonik. It gives the chocolate its perfect consistency and intense color.
Homage to Blondin and Cirage: Since 1991, many facades and house walls in Brussels have been dedicated to popular heroes from the comics. Pedestrians taking a stroll along the Comic Strip Route can view a total of 50 works of art. Comics are an important element of the Belgians’ identity. World-renowned comic book series such as Les aventures de Tintin (The Adventures of Tintin), Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs), and Lucky Luke owe their existence to the fantasy of Belgian comic-strip artists. But what would our favorite childhood heroes be without their colorful appearance? Evonik supplies products for high-quality printing inks and hydrogen peroxide for bleaching paper.
When you’re on a street in Brussels, a French fries stand is never far away. From tiny stands to exclusive multi-star restaurants, Belgian cuisine would be unthinkable without the famous Belgian frites (this is the French word; in Flemish or Dutch it’s Fritten). The secrets behind the unique flavor of this specialty include the choice of a specific potato variety, the use of beef fat, and the fact that frites are fried twice. What happens to the fat after it has completed its mission of frying these crunchy potato sticks? Evonik converts it into biofuel with the help of the alkoxyde potassium methylate and directs it toward its next intended purpose.
De Ronde van Vlaanderen—the Tour of Flanders—is a traditional cycling event. Every April, professional cyclists are invited to complete the 230-kilometer-long route from Antwerp to Oudenaarde, pedaling along nearly impassable cobbled streets and stretches with a gradient of almost 20 percent. (Highly motivated amateurs can also participate in a subsequent race.) Evonik often takes part—for example, by providing Ultrasil brand silica, which gives tires their ideal composition, and Rohacell structural foam in lightweight components. In Belgium, a bicycle is not only a piece of sport equipment but also a popular means of transportation. About a fourth of Evonik employees cycle to their workplace.
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