Solvay SA is adding capacity for Solef-brand polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) materials to serve the growing lithium-ion battery market.
Brussels-based Solvay will spend 300 million euros ($338.2 million) to grow annual production capacity for PVDF in Tavaux, France, to almost 80 million pounds per year. In a Feb. 1 news release, officials said the expansion will make the location the largest PVDF production site in Europe.
Officials said the expansion will be complete by December 2023 and that it "reinforces Solvay's global leadership in this field, positioning it to capitalize on growing demand for electric and hybrid vehicles." The firm previously announced a PVDF capacity increase in Changshu, China.
According to Solvay, rapid growth of electric and hybrid vehicles is driving "unprecedented" demand for PVDF, a thermoplastic fluoropolymer used both as a binder and a separator coating in lithium-ion batteries. The material is needed for safer and longer-range performance.
With electrification expected to grow in the next decade, officials said that Solvay is on track to double its market value per vehicle. As a result, the firm expects to grow its materials sales to the automotive market from approximately 800 million euros ($901.8 million) in 2021 to more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) by 2030.
"Demand for electric vehicles is undergoing massive growth," Solvay executive Michael Finelli said in the release. "We are capitalizing on this powerful megatrend through a relentless focus on innovation that is generating new technologies for our customers and positioning Solvay as an unparalleled leader in this field."
Solvay is a global supplier of plastics and specialty chemicals. The firm employs more than 23,000 worldwide and posted sales of $10.8 billion in 2020.