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W.R. Grace to expand factories in Malaysia, Brazil

COLUMBIA — W.R. Grace & Co. said Thursday it will increase factory capacity to make silica gel at existing plants in Kuantan, Malaysia, and Sorocaba, Brazil. The company didn’t say how much it was investing in the expansions.

Silica gel products are used in renewable fuels, particularly biodiesel, which is made by a chemical process out of fat or vegetable oil and can be blended with conventional diesel fuel.

Renewable fuel use is growing in emerging economies of Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, the company said in a statement.

Construction on both plants will start by the end of the year, with production beginning in the third quarter of 2011.

The company said in a statement that its silica gel efficiently removes contaminants from natural oil feed stocks used to make renewable fuels.

Silica products made at both sites also are used in the plastics, industrial, consumer, food and beverage industries, Columbia, Md.-based company said in a statement.

Shares of W.R. Grace fell 14 cents to $29.65 in morning trading Thursday.