Materials firm Solvay SA has doubled production capacity for Solef-brand polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) at its plant in Changshu, China.
In a news release, officials with Solvay in Brussels said that the expansion was needed because of the rapid growth of electric and hybrid vehicles, which is driving record demand for PVDF. The fluoropolymer material is used as a binder and a separator coating in lithium-ion batteries. PVDF allows batteries to perform better, last longer and operate safely, officials said.
In February, Solvay had announced an investment of almost $340 million in PVDF production at its site in Tavaux, France. That expansion will make Tavaux the largest PVDF production site in Europe, officials said. Increased production capacity in China shows Solvay's commitment to ensuring that material is readily available worldwide, officials added.
"Demand for lithium-ion batteries is undergoing massive growth," Francescantonio Azzariti, head of Solvay's battery platform, said in the release. "We are inspired both by the environmental benefits as we transition to cleaner mobility and by the commercial opportunities these new technologies offer."
Solvay also in May announced that the firm had increased capacity for long-fiber compounds in Belgium and had expanded a U.S. research and development center. The investment in more capacity for Xencor-brand long-fiber thermoplastic (LFT) compounds was made at Solvay's plant in Oudenaarde, while the R&D expansion took place in Alpharetta, Ga.
Solvay employs more than 23,000 worldwide and posted sales of $11 billion in 2021. In March, the firm announced plans to split itself into two public companies, including one making specialty materials that would include plastics and composites.