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Solvay, Orbia JV to produce suspension-grade PVDF for batteries in North America

Image for representation purposes only. Source: Arkema Batteries

Belgian chemicals firm Solvay and Mexico-based Orbia have announced their entry into a joint venture framework agreement for the production of suspension-grade polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). The partnership aims to create the largest capacity for PVDF in North America.

About $850 million is to be invested for the purpose, the company claim. It is expected to be funded in part by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy of $178 million to Solvay to build a facility in Augusta, Georgia.

PVDF, a thermoplastic fluoropolymer, is used as a lithium-ion binder and separator coating in li-ion batteries. It plays a significant role in powering batteries due to its high-level thermal and electrochemical stability, and provides excellent adhesion between electrode films and collectors.

The Solvay-Orbia joint venture aims fill a significant supply gap in the PVDF in the regional battery industry. Solvay's expertise in PVDF brings process technology and market know-how to this venture.

"We are delighted to partner with Orbia on this exciting opportunity to expand our battery solutions into North America, with strong support by the U.S. Department of Energy," said Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay.

"This significant milestone in our electrification strategy enhances our global leadership and contributes to the establishment of the battery supply chain infrastructure in the United States. This decision follows our previously announced investment in Tavaux, France. These investments extend our ambition to grow global sales to the automotive market from €800 million in 2021 to over €3 billion by 2030", she added.

On the other hand, Orbia's Fluorinated Solutions business 'Koura' and Polymer Solutions business 'Vestolit' will supply hydrofluoric acid, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and chlorine respectively to the JV.

Said Sameer Bharadwaj, CEO of Orbia, "Our partnership with Solvay marks a key milestone for our business and our role in enabling the North American energy transition. Together with Solvay, Orbia's unique position integrated into both the fluorine and vinyl chains, helps us to bring a cost competitive battery supply chain to the U.S., just as we maintain our commitment to developing sustainable solutions that can advance life globally".

"Along with our previously announced 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", he added.

Solvay's 'Solef' PVDF innovations and Orbia's raw material assets and production expertise will enable delivery of PVDF that optimizes energy storage efficiency by increasing battery energy-density, safety and power, according to the partnering companies.

Solvay and Orbia intend to use two production sites, one for raw materials and the other for finished product, located in the southeastern United States. Both plants are expected to be fully operational by 2026. 

Author : Dhiyanesh Ravichandran
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