HOUSTON — Solvay Advanced Polymers Inc. of Houston is looking to bolster its position in the fluoropolymer market by building a feedstock and resin plant in Decatur, Ala.
The feedstock plant will produce vinylidene fluoride monomer as part of Alventia LLC, a joint venture between Solvay and Dyneon LLC of Oakdale, Minn. Dyneon also operates a fluoroelastomers plant in Decatur. The plant is scheduled to open in mid-1999 with 11 million pounds of annual capacity.
Solvay will operate the resin plant independently. That plant is expected to produce 5 million pounds of polyvinylidene fluoride when it opens in 2000.
Solvay Advanced Polymers is a division of Solvay America Inc. of Houston and Solvay Group of Belgium. It was formed earlier this year to focus the company's efforts in the fluoropolymer market.
For several years, Solvay has been marketing its Solef-brand PVDF in North America imported from the company's only PVDF production site in Tavaux, France. Its material is sold primarily into the wire and cable and semiconductor industries, according to Solvay Advanced Polymers President Laird McBeth.
``The [PVDF] market has been growing at a 6-7 percent rate over the last five years,'' McBeth said in a Sept. 17 interview in Houston. ``We need to build our feedstock infrastructure.''
Combined, the feedstock and resin plants will employ about 30.
McBeth added that specialty engineered resins such as PVDF are gaining favor with resin makers because of their ability to produce ``consistent returns year in and year out,'' unlike many commodity materials.
Solvay's primary competition in the North American PVDF market comes from Elf Atochem of North America and Ausimont Inc., both based in Philadelphia.
Growing PVDF uses include wire jacketing in fire alarms, electrical cables and fiber optics. Solvay also is working to create PVDF grades that can be used in lithium batteries and as a cap-stock laminate in PVC profiles. The cap-stock application could create huge opportunities in the vinyl siding market.
``Our goal is to have the new applications commercially ready when the [Decatur] plant opens,'' McBeth said.