Solvay acquires financial interest in Aonix Advanced Materials

Belgium-based Solvay will acquire a stake in Canada-based Aonix to accelerate the development and commercialization of mass-produced thermoplastic composites using Solvay's polymers.

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Solvay Specialty Polymers (Brussels, Belgium) reported on Oct. 21 that it has reached an agreement to acquire a financial interest in Aonix Advanced Materials (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), a developer of advanced composite materials and manufacturing systems. Solvay will partner with Aonix to accelerate the development and commercialization of mass-produced thermoplastic composites made of Solvay’s high-performance polymers for end-use markets including mobile electronics, automotive, oil and gas and sporting goods. A final agreement is expected to close in late November.

The partnership will focus on the use of Solvay’s high-performance thermoplastics as a matrix, as well as overmolding polymers that are particularly suited for these advanced composite applications due to their strong mechanical properties, superior damage tolerance and chemical resistance. A key processing advantage is their faster cycle times compared to thermoset systems such as epoxy, particularly in high-volume fabrication. These composites are reinforced with glass fiber, aramid fiber, or carbon fiber.

Aonix offers its proprietary UltraMaterials, a range of thermoplastic formulations that are used to create new classes of composite materials with superior performance, high-volume output and recyclability versus conventional composites. The company accelerates commercial development by performing all formulation, prepreg, prototyping, testing and validation for the customer. Aonix’s turnkey solution also includes purpose-built, automated manufacturing systems that are fully optimized for high-volume/low-cost production, eliminating the labor-intensive processes of traditional composites manufacturing.

Solvay says the investment demonstrates its strong commitment to the composites market and provides a channel for its polymers to play a key role in this fast-growing segment. The partnership will target Solvay’s full range of high-performance polymers. However, the agreement won’t affect developments involving KetaSpire PEEK with other companies.

“This unique collaboration will bring together two world-class companies focused on meeting the growing global demand for lightweight, stiff, strong and recyclable composite materials,” said Armin Klesing, business development manager for aerospace and composites for Solvay Specialty Polymers. “We’re excited about the composites market and Aonix’s potential to deliver cutting-edge composite systems with significant benefits over conventional epoxy-based systems in high-volume production.”

“We see valuable synergies resulting from this partnership,” said Jerome Le Corvec, president and CEO of Aonix Advanced Materials. “Our expertise in composites formulation and fabrication and Solvay’s industry-leading position in high-performance polymers creates a strong team capable of opening up new doors in the advanced thermoplastic composites arena.”

“We expect our partnership to capitalize on the integrated value chain - from material formulation to component manufacturing,” said Klesing. Work on commercial applications is underway in a range of end-use markets.