Solvay Advanced Polymers LLC is aiming to keep people active longer with its new Solviva Biomaterials.
The materials - unveiled at K 2007 in Dusseldorf - are specially engineered grades of Solvay's polyetheretherketone, self-reinforced polyphenylene, polyphenylsulfone and polysulfone resins. They can offer stiffness close to that of bone and are intended for use in implantable medical devices.
Solviva products can meet stringent biocompatible testing and are produced in a controlled clean environment at Solvay's plant in Alpharetta, Ga., according to global health-care market manager Shawn Shorrock.
``With an aging population, people are living longer and living more actively,'' Shorrock said. ``Our joints are wearing out before we do.''
She described medical implants as a $50 billion industry that's ``an underserved market in terms of materials.''
Shorrock declined to identify specific implants that Solviva could be used in, but she confirmed Alpharetta-based Solvay is in active product trials with Zimmer Medical Device Co., a maker of knee and hip replacements and other products based in Warsaw, Ind.
The business - a unit of Solvay SA of Brussels, Belgium - has averaged 8 percent annual sales growth in recent years and is continuing at that pace, according to General Manager Enzo Morici. The firm will open a new PEEK plant in Panoli, India, early next year and plans to add capacity at compounding plants in Europe and North America as well, Morici said.
Solvay Solexis - another Solvay SA unit - also has commercialized new higher-clarity grades of Hyflon-brand fluoropolymer for protective coatings and lighting, and new grades of Tecnoflon-brand thermoset fluoroelastomers for transportation, semiconductor and energy markets.
Overall, Solvay's plastics business posted sales of 3.8 billion euros ($4.77 billion) in 2006, with 45 percent coming from PVC and related products. SolVin - Solvay's PVC-making joint venture with BASF AG - ranks as the world's third-largest PVC maker and holds down the No. 2 spot in Europe. Automotive is Solvay's single-largest end market, with a 27 percent share.
In recent years, Solvay SA has exited commodity resin businesses in polypropylene and polyethylene in favor of more-specialized and less-cyclical markets, plastics General Manager Jacques van Rijckevorsel said.
SolVin will open a 730 million-pound-capacity PVC plant in Kstovo, Russia, in 2010 in a joint venture, with Sibur LLC. Russian national gas and oil firm JSC Gazprom holds a controlling stake in Sibur. Other Solvay PVC capacity additions for 2009 include 165 million pounds in Jemeppe-sur-Sambre, Belgium, and 155 million pounds in Map-Ta-Phut, Thailand.