On May 8, Solvay Specialty Polymers (Alpharetta, Ga.) reported that it is nearing completion of a commercial-scale polyethersulfone (PESU) micropowder production line in Panoli, India. The new, dedicated "world-scale" production unit is expected to expand Solvay's capacity to produce sub-75 micron Virantage PESU micropowder by several hundred tons to support growing demand for epoxy tougheners in the composites industry.
Solvay’s trademarled 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 of this year, is described as a "major commercial line expansion" for Virantage PESU micropowders. Until now, the company has supplied material globally from a semicommercial production plant in Alpharetta.
“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.
Solvay reports that global demand for PESU tougheners has grown dramatically over the past few years as leading aircraft OEMs, such as The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill.) and Airbus (Toulouse, France), increase their use of high-performance composites in commercial aircraft.
Virantage PESU is an amorphous, high-temperature thermoplastic that is said to offer 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 nonreactive Virantage PESU tougheners in a wide range of molecular weights and particle sizes to meet composite industry processing and performance needs. For more informaiton, visit the Solvay Specialty Polymers Web site: http://www.solvayspecialtypolymers.com.