Chinaplas 2014: Solvay beefs up investments in China/Asia; slants towards sustainable materials
Frank Laganier, Asia-Pacific Director for Solvay Engineering Plastics

Chemical group Solvay has been investing heavily in Singapore, Korea, India, Thailand and, of course, massively in China, said Frank Laganier, Asia-Pacific Director for Solvay Engineering Plastics, during a media briefing at Chinaplas. He also explained the reason for the “heavy investments”: group sales from Asia have increased from 26% two years ago to 31% last year.

The be-all and end-all market is obviously China and it plays a major role in the group’s Asia Pacific development, since of the group’s 16 businesses, 13 are already in China.

Solvay’s global Specialty Polymers and Engineering Plastics business units have been leading the way forward. In line with this, the business units are extending efforts for innovation and capacity expansions in China:

  • Solvay Specialty Polymers will start-up its Tecnoflon FKM production plant in Changshu by 2015 and start-up the Solef PVDF production plant in Changshu in 2016

  • Solvay Engineering Plastics will increase its Technyl polyamides compounding capacity in Shanghai by 25% by 2016

  • Solvay has a new R&D building in Shanghai combining both the Specialty Polymers and Engineering Plastics innovation capabilities. Solvay Specialty Polymers is also setting up new laboratories for colour development and FKM applications by 2015

  • Solvay Specialty Polymers has signed an MOU with Shanghai 3F New Material to set up a joint venture on PTFE in Changshu

Meanwhile, innovation plays a substantive part in the group’s push of its products in Asia, said Laganier, adding that the group generates 20% of its sales from products that are less than 5 years old.

Luke Du, General Manager, Greater China and SEA, Solvay Specialty Polymers, reinforced this, “We invest 15% of our human resources into R&D; 10% of the personnel are in commercial development of products.”

And here, it is the engineering plastics unit that is a star performer for Solvay. A head turner is the Technyl polyamides brand (formerly the Rhodia brand) that celebrated its 60 years in business last year but is still continuing to churn out new products.

“We expect that Engineering Plastics’ turnover in Asia will increase to 40% this year (from 38%),” said Laganier.

He added, “It is playing a strong role and serves four main areas of metal replacement, thermal management, fire protection and fluid barrier.”

Overall, the group’s major markets in China are automotive, electronic semi-con and consumer; with aerospace, water treatment, energy and healthcare sectors trailing behind.

“But reducing energy and pollution (which is a plight faced by China/Asia), are two major areas that are of importance,” said Du.

With this in mind, at Chinaplas, Solvay was promoting the following new solutions for the automotive sector, for lightweight performance and powertrain efficiency:

  • Technyl PA, Amodel PPA and Tecnoflon FKM high-temperature materials for turbocharged engines; Sinterline Technyl Powders for functional prototyping

  • MMI Technyl Design predictive simulation for optimised designs

For energy consumption reduction, smart energy management and sustainable designs, Solvay offers the following new polymers:

  • Halar ECTFE (ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene) film grades for front sheets and Solef PVDF back sheet; Technyl flame retardant materials for photovoltaic modules

  • Technyl One range for building automation and energy management systems; fluoropolymers for semi-con wafer processing equipment

  • Kalix bio-based HPPA and lxef PARA for thin and durable smart devices; Technyl eXten aluminium coating in air conditioners and refrigerants for high thermal insulation

Solvay has been operating in China for 30 years and rakes in RMB8.5 billion in domestic sales; has 2,900 employees at 17 sites and four R&D centres and labs, not only in China, but also in Korea, India and Japan.


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