Solvay Progressing Fluorosurfactant Phase-out

28.06.2022 - Solvay is completely phasing out the use of fluorosurfactants across its global production platforms up to 2026. In its latest step, the Belgian chemical giant said it will be able to produce nearly 100% of its fluoropolymers without fluorosurfactants at its Spinetta Marengo, Italy, site by that date.

The phase-out will exempt one small line, representing 1% of production volume, which Solvay says is critical for the semiconductor and energy industries. Changing the formula here will require further technological development. For now, a tightly-controlled, closed-loop and zero liquid discharge production process will be used for this production line.

Since 2019, the Brussels-based company said it has quadrupled spending on research and innovation to develop new non-fluorosurfactant technologies. In July 2021, it successfully discontinued fluorosurfactant use in the US, in close collaboration with customers, through the launch of two alternative technologies, Hylar 5000S and Tecnoflon LX. 

 CEO Ilhan Kadri said Solvay’s new polymerization process does not require the use of fluorosurfactants, but still keeps the unique properties customers need to make critical materials for use in renewable energy installations, lithium-ion batteries, medical device components and other applications.

The company is currently investing €40 million in new technology at Spinetta Marengo, with the aim of enhancing its water treatment systems to ensure the removal of fluorosurfactant emissions to almost 100%. By Jun. 30, 2023, production of the Hyflon perfluoropolymer and Algoflon PTFE product lines with fluorosurfactants will cease at the Italian site.

The chemical producer said the plans align with its One Planet sustainability roadmap, setting the direction for the fluoropolymers industry to support a more sustainable economy.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist