In tune with business trends

In today’s world, changes are the only constant. Changes that move fast and go deep, triggering major shifts and global trends that redefine market needs and behaviors. Chemistry is a core component of products and solutions used every day, and the advancement of chemical technologies is therefore essential to address these global trends. At Solvay, we are in constant interaction with our stakeholders, constantly listening to our customers. This enables us to understand their needs and develop the right chemical solutions to help them meet their own customers’ needs.

Navigating a complex macro-economic landscape

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) remained a global phenomenon in 2018: volatile exchange rates, uncertain economic cycles and intense competition, and geopolitical complexity and ambiguity with a clear increase in nationalist tendencies in many countries. The trends in the chemicals industry globally have been positive. There has been enhanced profitability and value creation in many geographies, and mature countries are once again seeing growth in production. At the same time, the transformation of the chemicals industry continues. Digitalization offers game-changing new opportunities and the shape of the sector is changing, with consolidation on the one hand and, on the other, refocused portfolios resulting in the emergence, especially in Asia, of new specialized independent players.

Against this backdrop, vigilance and agility are vital for Solvay, and we intend to continue to pursue a coherent, focused strategy that both consolidates our leadership and sets us apart from the field. We are leveraging digital technologies to bring us closer to our customers, accelerate innovation and improve our efficiency.

Key megatrends linked to Solvay's activities

Evolving demography and consumer behavior

Evolving demography and consumer behavior

Airplane landing (photo)

The shape of the world is changing. The global population continues to grow fast, especially in Asia and Africa, and is leaving rural areas for the city. Megalopolis is the watchword as urbanization mushrooms, chiefly in emerging countries. In parallel, new age and gender dynamics are in play. The health and wellness challenges facing an older population open up new markets, as does the shrinking gap between men and women in the workplace.

Solvay’s solutions are set to be woven into this evolving pattern: new materials for smart cities, innovations to drive next generation mobility and ever more connected people.

Next generation mobility, in particular, is an important part of our focus as we seize the major opportunities it holds. This paradigm shift in technology is already a reality and it is moving fast. Solvay is ready to move with it.

Innovating for our markets
Our sustainable value creation model

4.5 %

annual growth in passenger traffic

+100 %

number of aircrafts in 20 years

70 %

of planes replaced by more efficient aircrafts in 20 years

Our customers’ challenges

Customer demand is unprecedented in the aircraft industry, with more airplanes being built to transport the increasing number of people flying. Aerospace has been a key driver of composites use and today’s aircraft incorporate a much higher level of composite technology. And tomorrow’s aircraft will require even more advanced solutions that will allow our customers to accelerate the build rate and produce lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Opportunities for Solvay

As an aerospace technology leader, Solvay has a strong hand to play. Our unique portfolio of technologies, including composite materials and polymers, is second to none. Just like our customers, our teams have deep technological expertise. They speak the same language and can scale up the solutions we develop to suit their changing needs. We have forged long-lasting, strategic partnerships with our customers and close, sustainable relationships with players in the aircraft ecosystem as a whole.

Carbon fiber composites are the leading technological solution to the challenges facing the aircraft industry today and tomorrow. Composites make planes lighter and more fuel efficient and offer unique benefits in aerodynamics, design, part integration and corrosion resistance.

Solvay’s composites solutions put us in a strong market position. In 2018, we furthered partnerships and signed four major long-term agreements worth over €1 billion with important customers including Airbus, Bell, Safran and Spirit.

A unique portfolio of composite technologies

Our breakthrough technologies are used in a range of aircraft structures. Our liquid resin infusion technology is used on the LEAP engines fan blades of the Airbus A320neo, but also on the wing box of the Airbus 220. This technology enables our clients to achieve faster build rates and benefit from enhanced efficiencies.

We also partner with UAE Mubadala to bring our advanced pepreg technology to the Boeing 777X, a future aircraft that will integrate Solvay’s materials in its primary structures.

Solvay is also leveraging its best-in-class portfolio of specialty polymers together with composite technologies to develop thermoplastic composites. This combination of core technologies puts us in a unique position to introduce innovative new thermoplastics solutions that can be used to support more cost-effective production and enable customers to achieve higher build rates.

Resource constraints and demand for sustainability

Resource constraints and demand for sustainability

Desert landscape (photo)

Climate change is arguably the most urgent issue facing our planet. Global warming and climate disruption, fuelled by greenhouse gas emissions and especially CO2, are set to intensify, and new challenges must be met if this is to prevented and controlled. In parallel, the demand for essential resources – food, energy, water – will continue to grow, triggering spikes in raw materials prices and making research into alternative solutions and new chemical pathways ever more crucial. Concern over pollution and biodiversity loss is also escalating. Here too, new solutions are necessary and human behaviors must change.

Solvay’s Advanced Formulations portfolio is strongly focused on resource efficiency. As demand in sectors such as oil and gas, mining and agrochemicals increases, we offer innovative solutions for efficient extraction and use of precious resources.

Innovating for our markets
Our sustainable value creation model

+43 %

Copper consumption by 2035*

+300 %

Lithium demand by 2025*

+60 %

Cobalt demand by 2025*

* source Mc Kinsey

Our customers’ challenges

Enhanced productivity and operational efficiency are paramount in the mining industry. New approaches to separating metals and minerals from ore, that mitigate impact on the environment and on mine workers, are essential to meeting this challenge. And, as demand for metals increases – copper in electrification, alumina in lightweight materials, lithium, nickel and cobalt in electric vehicle batteries – the need for improved productivity and yield become more critical.

Opportunities for Solvay

Solvay aims to outgrow its competitors in mining and related sectors by continuing to bring high-productivity and sustainable innovations to the industry, where we are already a major player.

The Group holds a key position in the mining industry value chain, where our innovations help our customers to optimize the amount of metal extracted from the ore. We offer innovations in surface chemistry, solvent extraction and alumina refining that help customers improve their productivity and enhance yield and also help us extend into new geographies including China, Africa and Latin America.

We are also bringing our innovations to new markets, including lithium and cobalt to name but a few.

Targeted solutions

Metal recovery is ever more challenging as ore grades decline and ore bodies become more complex, with significant presence of penalty elements and gangue minerals. Mining companies therefore need more selective, tailored reagents and ongoing expert support. Solvay meets these needs through a newly developed process offering optimum reagent selection and custom formulations for specific operations. Our range of collectors includes industry-critical innovations that significantly enhance our customers productivity and so support strong growth in the industry.

Innovation Acceleration

Innovation Acceleration

Electric car on docking station (photo)

Ever-changing and disruptive, digital has brought the world into the Information Age. With huge amounts of information on every topic available to all, it has created a knowledge society and, in parallel, businesses and researchers are increasingly leveraging big data to help them achieve breakthrough innovations. Increased connectivity and mobility are also driving groundbreaking new business models that are transforming the way we work and how we behave as consumers.

At the same time, innovation cycles are adapting to the new, faster pace and growing shorter. So too are product lifetimes, as new technologies reach the market faster and are quickly adopted. This acceleration is supported by a growing trend in Research & Development toward open innovation and cooperative partnerships.

+30 %

annual growth in the electrical vehicle segment that is set to make up 80% of the Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery market by 2022

+26 %

expected growth in the global Li-ion battery market between 2017 and 2025

Our customers’ challenges

The electrical vehicles and consumer electronics markets are driving strong growth in Li-ion batteries, but are also highly demanding. They need advanced technology for faster charging, enhanced battery pack design and higher energy density. To meet these needs, suppliers must offer quality products, stable supply and sufficient production capacity. Reducing cost per kWh is also key, as electrical vehicles strive to compete with conventional automobiles.

Opportunities for Solvay

Solvay is at the cutting edge of battery innovation. Together, our recognized expertise in fluorine chemistry, robust portfolio of fluorinated products and Lithium salts, and dedicated Battery Application Development Center in Seoul, South-Korea make us a leader in new solutions for next generation batteries that meet the challenges facing our customers, with technologies that offer enhanced safety, energy density and power at lower cost.

We have joined our peers in the European SAFT initiative to research, develop and industrialize solid-state batteries. And in parallel, we have developed proprietary technology to make a solid electrolyte and support the transition to solid-state batteries.

The market has welcomed our LiTFSl solution, a widely used additive that extends battery life by enhancing extreme temperature performance.

Our sales in battery components are already growing fast and stood at over €50m in 2017. And we expect our performance on this high-barrier-to-entry market to accelerate even further.

High energy solutions

Our Energain® technologies allow next generation Li-ion batteries to operate at higher voltage for higher energy density and are now being validated for both electrical vehicles and consumer electronics. Our customers are sampling these technologies and other fluorinated compounds to improve the cycle life of next generation silicon based anodes.

Solef® PVDF is a high-performance polymer for Li-ion batteries with excellent thermomechanical and chemical properties. Partially fluorinated, it is particularly stable, so that batteries can work at higher voltages in complete safety.