Electric vehicle market growth is leading Solvay to build a major new PVDF resin plant in Augusta, Ga.
In a Nov. 2 news release, officials with Solvay in Brussels said that the plant will be built through a joint venture with Mexican specialty chemicals maker Orbia Advance Corp. SAB de CV, tapping into a grant of almost $200 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. They added that the plant will be the largest North American production facility for EV materials.
PVDF — a thermoplastic fluoropolymer — "will allow supply for the rapidly growing EV battery market, meeting the growing needs of U.S. domestic energy storage markets," officials said. The new operations will provide material for more than 5 million EV batteries per year at full capacity and create hundreds of jobs through the value chain, they added.
According to Solvay, half of U.S. car sales will be EVs by 2030. The JV secures supply by Orbia of needed materials for Solvay to make suspension-grade PVDF, used as a lithium-ion binder and separator coating in electric vehicle batteries.
Officials said that Solvay "will bring its process technology and global market know-how" to the JV. "In combination, Solvay's Solef [brand] PVDF innovations and Orbia's raw material assets and production expertise will enable delivery of PVDF that enables [EVs] to go farther on each charge, extends battery life and improves battery safety," they added.
The two companies first announced plans for the JV in 2022.
Solvay and Orbia intend to use two production sites in the southeastern U.S., one for raw materials and the other for finished products. Both plants are expected to be operational in 2026.
Solvay and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains have finalized their agreement for a $178 million grant to Solvay to help build the facility at its site in Augusta. The grant was awarded to Solvay as part of the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to expand U.S. domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the electrical grid.
The companies said the Augusta facility will provide finished products while a site in St. Gabriel, La., will handle raw material conversion for needed intermediates.
Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri said that the new plant "is a key milestone in our electrification strategy, emphasizing our global commitment to sustainable mobility." She added that the support of the DOE "demonstrates Solvay's pivotal role in advancing technologies that meet market demand and improve energy storage and the safety and power of electric vehicles."
Orbia CEO Sameer Bharadwaj added that the JV "underscores our continued commitment to enabling the clean energy transition with our investments in energy materials."
"Orbia has a unique 'mine-to-market' position with integration in all the key materials needed to bolster North America's EV supply chain and be Inflation Reduction Act-compliant," he said.
Globally, Solvay has almost 100 production sites and employs more than 23,000. The firm is in the process of splitting into two companies, including one named Syensqo that will include Solvay's plastics businesses.
The Solvay-Orbia announcement is part of a wave of recent EV-related projects. On Oct. 31, Asahi Kasei Corp. announced that it was investing $264 million to install new lines making lithium-ion battery (LIB) separators at plants in the U.S., Japan and South Korea. The new lines in Charlotte, N.C.; Hyuga, Japan; and Pyeongtaek, South Korea, are expected to start up in the first half of fiscal 2026, officials with Tokyo-based Asahi Kasei said.
Also on Oct. 31, automaker Toyota announced an investment of $8 billion to expand its EV capability in Liberty, N.C. That project will add around 3,000 jobs at Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina. The additional investment brings Toyota's total investment at the site to almost $14 billion and job creation to more than 5,000.