Solvay SA is building a polyether etherketone resin plant in Augusta, Ga. The unit will be the company's second PEEK plant — the Brussels, Belgium-based chemicals company opened a plant in Panoli, India, in 2008.
“This major expansion drive will make Solvay the only player in the industry to produce PEEK at two different sites in two different, growing regions,” said Augusto Di Donfrancesco, president of Solvay's Specialty Polymers global business unit, in a news release.
The new unit is scheduled to come on stream in mid-2016. Combined with an expansion already underway in Panoli, it will raise Solvay's global PEEK resin production capacity to more than 2,500 metric tons annually.
The expansion in India is raising capacity there by 25 percent. When that plant opened in 2008, it had annual capacity of 500 metric tons.
Solvay said it will invest more than $85 million in the two expansions.
The expansions will address demand for KetaSpire PEEK and AvaSpire PAEK, according to Solvay. The materials play a large role in light-weighting, reducing energy consumption and in enabling high performance in demanding applications such as health care, electronics and automotive.
“These investments reinforce our long-term commitment to our customers worldwide,” Di Donfrancesco said.
The global PEEK market is dominated by Victrex plc of London. Degussa AG of Darmstadt, Germany, also produces PEEK resin.
PEEK resin is not an entirely new material for Solvay's U.S. portfolio. Starting in 2006 the company had a semi-commercial KetaSpire and AvaSpire unit in Alpharetta, Ga.
Solvay has been investing in its specialty plastics business in recent months, most recently when it added polyphenylene sulfide resin to its portfolio, when it bought the Ryton business from Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.
Solvay bought the Augusta plant from BP Amoco plc in 2001.
Solvay employs about 29,400 in 56 countries and reported 2013 net sales of around 9.9 billion euros.