Solvay and Orbia Create PVDF for Batteries JV

07.11.2022 - The battery market is becoming increasingly important to the global chemical industry, with companies frequently linking up to supply key materials.

In one of the latest deals, Solvay and Orbia have signed a joint venture framework agreement to create a partnership for the production of suspension-grade polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) specifically for batteries.

According to Solvay, this will be the largest PVDF plant for battery materials in North America. Altogether, the project will cost $850 million, financed partially by a $178 million grant awarded by the US Department of Energy to Solvay’s US arm for a new plant at Augusta, Georgia.

The companies plan to use two production sites, one for raw materials and the other for finished product. Both will be located in the southeastern US and are expected to be fully operational by 2026.

Solvay, a global PVDF giant, will contribute process technology and its knowledge of the market. With a vertically integrated value chain and material holdings, Orbia’s Fluorinated Solutions business Koura and its Polymer Solutions business Vestolit will supply hydrofluoric acid, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and chlorine respectively.

The combination, the JV partners said, will enable delivery of a PVDF – the thermoplastic fluoropolymer is used as a lithium-ion binder and separator coating – that optimizes energy storage efficiency by increasing battery energy density, safety and power.

With more than half of the US automotive fleet projected to be electric by 2030, demand for lithium-ion batteries and PVDF are seen to be moving into higher gear. The joint venture would fill a significant supply gap and build upon favorable regulatory conditions promoting regional production and material security, Solvay said.

This new project builds on the Brussels-based group’s previously announced €300 million investment to increase the production of its Solef PVDF facility in Tavaux, France. These investments extend the company’s ambition to grow global sales to the automotive market from €800 million in 2021 to over €3 billion by 2030, said CEO Ilham Kadri.

Together with Solvay’s expertise in PVDF, Orbia said its unique position integrated in both the fluorine and vinyl chains will help it bring a cost competitive battery supply chain to the US.

Alongside Orbia’s previous Department of Energy grant to produce LiPF6 electrolyte salts in North America, “this investment will put us in a leadership position to provide a secure source for fluorinated lithium-ion battery additives as well as local jobs,” the company said.

Auhtor: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist