Solvay Lifts European PVDF Capacity for EV Batteries

07.02.2022 - Reacting to the comet-like rise in demand for lithium oxide batteries used as separators and cathode binders in electric and hybrid vehicles, Solvay is expanding production of its Solef-branded polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) at its site in Tavaux, France.

The upgrade in France, expected to be completed by December 2023, will cost €300 million and lift the Belgian group’s capacity in Europe to 35,000 t/y. According to Solvay, the new line will be the largest PVDF production in Europe and reinforce its global leadership in this field.

In 2019, the Brussels-based chemicals and plastics producer unveiled plans for expanding output at Changsu, China. The new capacity there is due to start up in the second half of this year. In announcing the Chinese investment in 2019, Solvay said it was doubling capacity – without providing figures for existing or future output capability.

Solvay noted that the thermoplastic fluoropolymer is enjoying unprecedented demand, due to its contribution to optimizing energy storage efficiency by increasing the battery’s energy density, safety and power. The competition is not sleeping, however. Solvay’s news comes only days on the heels of Arkema’s announcement of an expansion at Changsu.

The French company said it has revised earlier plans to lift output for its Kynar-branded PVDF at the Chinese site. It now says capacity will rise by 50% up to the end of 2022 rather than 35% by the same date as announced in February 2021.  Alongside Changsu, Arkema is lifting capacity at Pierre-Bénite, France, by around 3,000 t up to the first quarter of 2023.

With the trend to electrification continuing to accelerate, Solvay said it is on track to double its addressable market value per vehicle. As a result, it expects to grow its Materials business sales to the automotive market from around €800 million in 2021 to more than €2.5 billion by 2030.

Solvay said its PVDF has been recognized as a sustainable and profitable solution by the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, reflecting its contribution to cleaner mobility. PDVF was also an essential component of Solar Impulse, the world's first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the world, the chemical producer recalled.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist