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Solvay plans large specialty plastics plant in China

Plastics and chemicals supplier Solvay announced it will invest some €120 million ($172.5 million) in a new plant for the production of specialty plastics polyvinylidene fluoride and fluoroelastomers, plus the vinylidene fluoride monomer used to make them. Typical end use products for fluoroelastomers include O-rings, seals, gaskets and complex molded parts in highly aggressive chemical climates-think of underhood automotive parts.

Indeed, Solvay (Brussels, Belgium) said that China's automotive industry is a major reason for the new fluoroelastomer capacity. Solvay markets these materials under its Tecnoflon brand name. It markets its polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) as Solef. PVDF films see use in Lithium-ion batteries, membranes for water purification and other critical applications.

The new plant will be built at Solvay's current site in Changshu and is scheduled to become operational at the beginning of 2014. Solvay did not state the annual output of the new plant. Solvay already supplies fluoroelastomers and PVDF from facilities in Europe. Fluoropolymers are a class of paraffinic polymers that have some or all of the hydrogen replaced by fluorine. These polymers exhibit exceptional chemical resistance and barrier properties, broad temperature resistance, good electrical properties, almost no moisture absorption, extremely low coefficients of friction, and resistance to weathering, among other attributes. Solvay claims European leadership in fluoropolymer supply and a #3 placing in the world. DuPont's Teflon is the best known fluoropolymer. Asahi Glass and Arkema are other leading suppliers of these specialty materials.

 The new plant in Changshu will be built next to a compounding plant already under construction for the supplier's Amodel polyphthalamide (PPA), Ixef polyarylamide (PARA) and Kalix (modified PARA), which is scheduled to become operational in the last quarter of 2012.

Solvay in April announced it intended to acquire chemicals and plastics (polyamide 6.6) supplier Rhodia

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