Company’s New Commercial-Scale Line Targets Growing Demand for Epoxy Tougheners in Composites Industry

ALPHARETTA, Ga., May 8, 2013– Solvay Specialty Polymers is nearing completion of a commercial-scale polyethersulfone (PESU) micropowder production line in Panoli, India. This new dedicated world-scale production unit will expand capacity for sub-75 micron Virantage® PESU micropowder by several hundred tons to support growing demand for epoxy tougheners in the composites industry. Solvay’s Virantage® PESU micropowders are used as a formulation additive in a broad range of epoxy composite systems, providing the required damage tolerance and toughness for aerospace, automotive, and other demanding applications.

The new capacity, slated for startup in September, is a major commercial line expansion for Virantage® PESU micropowders. Until now, the company has supplied material globally from a semi-commercial production plant in Alpharetta, Ga.

“With our broad portfolio of high-temperature tougheners, we are firmly positioned as a strategic supplier to the composites industry and this expansion signals our further commitment,” said Michael Finelli, Sulfone Business Manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers.

Global demand for PESU tougheners has grown dramatically over the past few years with leading aircraft OEMs such as Boeing and Airbus increasing their use of high-performance composites in commercial aircraft, says Solvay.

Virantage® PESU is an amorphous, high-temperature thermoplastic that offers excellent thermal and hydrolytic stability. The material’s inherent toughness imparts damage tolerance to thermoset composites and excellent flexibility to coatings. These high-performance tougheners have found widespread use in next-generation commercial aircraft, military aircraft, automotive, and related transportation systems.

Solvay offers reactive and non-reactive Virantage® PESU tougheners in a wide range of molecular weights and particle sizes to meet composite industry processing and performance needs.

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 aerospace 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 is listed as SOLB.BE on NYSE Euronext in Brussels and Paris (Bloomberg: SOLB:BB - Reuters: SOLB.BR).