Solvay has opened a new facility to produce the synthetic building block ETFBO, expanding its range of fluorinated organic intermediates.

Construction of the facility, integrated into an existing building, began in May this year and preliminary sample amounts were produced in October.

Solvay in Bad Wimpfen is our most important site for the production of these fluorinated specialty chemicals, and the only ETFBO supplier worldwide,” said Horst Kröger, Head of Strategic Marketing of Solvay’s Global Business Unit Special Chemicals. “Our local research know-how, qualified staff and many years of production experience are unique worldwide, giving us a competitive advantage. An additional benefit is that we are close to our key customers, manufacturers of agrochemicals.”

The so-called CF3 chemistry has been an important pillar for the site since the 1980s, when the production process for trifluoroacetyl chloride (TFAC) was developed. Today, it is a high revenue product, and a raw material for ETFBO. Additional CF3 products are rapidly entering our product range. 

ETFBO is a building block that boosts the efficiency of active ingredient molecules and makes them more easily biodegradable.

Large active ingredient molecules for pharmaceutical products and agrochemicals are put together from smaller, so-called synthetic building blocks. ETFBO (4-ethoxy-1,1,1-trifluoro-3-butene-2-one) is such a synthetic building block, which contributes both fluorine and a complex molecular structure to the active ingredient molecule at the same time.

To begin with, only small amounts were synthesized for research purposes in Bad Wimpfen. These were then successfully tested in co-operation with selected customers. After that, ETFBO was produced at the industrial scale in a multi-purpose facility. The rapidly growing demand now makes a dedicated ETFBO facility viable.  


Fluorinated active ingredient molecules permeate more readily into the cell, which makes it possible to administer smaller doses. Thus, the same effect can be achieved with less medication. Moreover, ETFBO creates a predetermined breaking point in the molecule, where for example microorganisms in the ground can attack. Fluorine thus ensures that the molecule decomposes after its use on the field, rather than accumulating in the environment. The end product of the biodegradation is fluorspar (calcium fluoride), a natural mineral. Fluorinated active ingredients are becoming more and more significant due to their environmental compatibility and their high efficacy. One in two new agrochemicals contains fluorine.

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Solvay in Bad Wimpfen: unique know-how in fluorine chemistry worldwide

At Solvay in Bad Wimpfen more than 300 employees produce a wide range of special fluorine chemicals, including the aluminum soldering flux NOCOLOK® for heat exchangers in cars, trucks and other applications, both mobile and stationary, e.g. air-conditioning systems. The product range also includes synthetic components for the production of agrochemicals and pharmaceutical products. Fluorine is the chemical element with the highest electronegativity, which makes it particularly reactive. The production of complex, fluorinated molecules requires special know-how. Therefore, Solvay in Bad Wimpfen is the only industrial supplier for ETFBO worldwide.

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Solvay Special Chemicals is world leader in selected specialties based on Fluorine, Strontium and Barium. The GBU leverages its distinctive knowledge to provide specialized products and solutions to selected industries, such as: NOCOLOK® Fluxes for automotive heat exchangers, SOLKANE® 365 as foam blowing agent in thermal insulation foams, fluorinated intermediates for agrochemicals, process chemicals for semiconductors, barium salts for electronic passive components, etc.

Solvay’s German affiliates generated around €1.1 billion in net sales in 2013, both in Germany and abroad (€930 m of which in Germany, excluding assets intended for sale). Around 3,000 employees work at the company’s ten sites in Germany. Its main products include fluorine, barium and strontium specialties, high-performance polymers, soda ash, sodium bicarbonate, hydrogen peroxide and cellulose acetate.

As an international chemical group, SOLVAY assists industries in finding and implementing ever more responsible and value-creating solutions. Solvay generates 90% of its net sales in activities where it is among the world's top three players. It serves many markets, varying from energy and the environment to automotive and aeronautics or electricity and electronics, with one goal: to raise the performance of its clients and improve society's quality of life. The group is headquartered in Brussels, employs about 29,400 people in 56 countries and generated 9.9 billion euros in net sales in 2013. Solvay SA (SOLB.BE) is listed on EURONEXT Brussels and EURONEXT Paris (Bloomberg: SOLB:BB - Reuters: SOLB.BR).