This major investment will enable the Group to increase by 50% its polyamide 11 global production capacities. The project falls in line with Arkema’s strategy to speed up its development in advanced materials. This is one of the key pillars of its future growth. It is supported by a unique portfolio of innovations around the main sustainable development trends.
Invented as early as 1957, Rilsan® PA11 is the only high performance 100% bio-sourced polyamide to qualify for the most exacting applications in particular in the electronics, 3D-printing and automotive markets, where it serves as a metal substitute. It did not find its market before the turn of the century but is today considered both as a pioneer and a best-in-class material for metal replacement. One of the reasons of it slow development was also the hurdle of castor oil supply, of which the supply is now abundant and secure.
The investment will be rolled out in phases. Over the next five years, the Group plans to invest some 300 million euros to build a world-scale plant located in Asia and dedicated to producing Rilsan® PA11 bio-sourced polyamide from castor oil.
The new plant, which will produce both the amino 11 monomer and its polymer, Rilsan® PA11, should come on stream late 2021. It will enable Arkema to increase by 50% its Rilsan® PA11 production capacity.
The investment also includes a 50% increase in global production capacities for Pebax®, in particular Pebax® RNew of which amino 11 is a key component. Pebax® RNew is a bio-sourced polyamide elastomer with unique properties such as energy return and flexibility, earmarked in particular for the sports and electronics markets.
With this upcoming plant, Arkema will have a second amino 11 monomer production site, complementing its historical site in Marseille, France.
This investment illustrates the Group’s long-term commitment to fulfil strong demand from its customers in Asia by offering bio-sourced solutions to the key challenges of light weighting and design of materials. Over the next few years, annual growth of some 7% is forecasted for these markets in Asia.
With this project, the specialty polyamides business unit of Arkema, which already achieves 40% of its sales in Asia, will bolster its industrial, commercial and R&D presence in the region. The Group thereby confirms its commitment to support its customers by working closely on their individual needs and providing them with the right innovative solutions that match the local specifics of their various markets.
This project is consistent with the Group’s ambitious strategy to significantly step up the development of its advanced materials, which should eventually account for over 25% of its global sales.
Arkema’s CEO, Thierry Le Hénaff, declared in the announcement: “This project represents a milestone in the development of our specialty polyamides over the next few years. We send this message out to our customers with confidence and pride. Today more than ever, we stand by our customers to offer them ultra- high-tech bio-sourced product ranges. Our aim is to support their development all around the world with innovation driven expert teams and service”.