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Solvay today launched the construction of its Highly Dispersible Silica (HDS) production plant in Gunsan, South Korea, to address growing demand in Asia for energy saving tires and to develop innovative HDS grades.

In the presence of the Head of Jun-Book province, the mayor of Gunsan and other local dignitaries, Solvay officially broke ground for the construction of the plant, which with an annual capacity of more than 80 000 tons, is expected to be operational in the next two years.

Solvay's Global Business Unit (GBU) Silica will produce its latest and most advanced grades of high performance silica including Efficium®. This latest generation of Highly Dispersible Silica allows for higher productivity and greater flexibility in producing energy saving passenger car and truck tire compounds.

"This new production platform will be dedicated to silica innovations for Asia. Together with the Silica research facility, part of Solvay's new R&I Center at the Ehwa University Campus in Seoul, we are well placed to speed up innovations in close cooperation with our regional customers," said An Nuyttens, President of Solvay's Silica GBU.

The facility in the Saemangeum zone, close to Gunsan city in Jeollabuk-do province, will over time replace an important part of the current capacity at Solvay's Silica site in Incheon, which is located in area designated for future residential development.

Solvay Silica's investment in South Korea is another milestone in offering innovative solutions and in expanding its global footprint to serve customers.

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