Solvay Expands Leadership in Rare Earths Specialties

Solvay Expands Leadership in Rare Earths Specialties

Author: ChemistryViews

Solvay has acquired full ownership of its joint venture Solvay Special Chem Japan (SSCJ), Anan, Japan, through the purchase of 33 % minority shares from Santoku Corporation, Kobe, Japan. By this, Solvay has expanded its capabilities in the production of rare earth specialties used for automotive emission control, semiconductor processing, and other emerging technologies such as solid oxide fuel cells.

This transaction strengthens Solvay’s global plans to leverage its industrial and technical capabilities in rare earth chemistry to play a key role in mobility, connectivity, and electrification. It follows the announcement to invest in the La Rochelle, France, operation to develop a major rare earth magnet hub in Europe. Rare-earth magnets are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare-earth elements. The two most common rare earth magnets are Neodymium (Nd-Fe-B) and Samarium Cobalt (SmCo). Rare earth magnets are the strongest permanent magnets available and have significantly higher performance than ceramic/ferrite magnets. They are important components of climate industry products such as electric vehicles and wind turbines, as well as other technologies such as telephones, refrigerators, and aircraft.

The La Rochelle plant has expertise in the separation and purification of rare earths and the manufacture of high-tech products serving the automotive pollution control, medical imaging, and polishing markets for electronics and for high-precision lenses. It produces approximately 4,000 tons of rare-earth-based formulations per year. At its La Rochelle plant, Solvay also operates a pilot research unit that evaluates inorganic materials for solid electrolytes, a key component of solid-state batteries. Solid-state batteries are expected to replace lithium-ion batteries in the coming years because they offer greater safety, better performance, and lower total cost of ownership.



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