As number of demands for secondary batteries has increased sharply due to blossom of electric vehicle markets, South Korean and Japanese battery material manufacturers have started to extend their production facilities.
Toray recently invested $901 million (1.03 trillion KRW) and announced that it is going to increase production capacity of a separator for a lithium-ion battery to 2 billion m2 annually, which is about 5 times bigger than its current production capacity. Besides Japan and South Korea, it is also going to look into constructing new factories in Europe and the U.S.
Separator, which is one of four major materials (anode material, cathode material, separator, electrolyte) for a secondary battery, is a material that stays between an anode and a cathode and prevents a battery from having short circuit that occurs as an anode and a cathode come into direct contact.
Initially Toray was the number two business in global markets for a separator of a secondary battery followed by Asahi Kasei. However it gave up its place to SK Innovation as SK Innovation, which started mass-producing its first separators in 2005, quickly has increased output of separators. SK Innovation is looking to become the top wet separator manufacturer in the world by 2020.
Asahi Kasei, which is currently the number one business in the world for a separator of a secondary battery, is also taking actions. According to Japanese report, Asahi Kasei is also looking into increasing its production capacity up to 1.5 billion m2 annually, which is about 2.5 times bigger than its current production capacity, by 2020. It has increased its previous extension plan, which was originally 1.1 billion m2, even more.
Mitsubishi Chemical, which has the world’s strongest competitive edge in electrolyte, had carried out an extension that increased production capacity of EC (Ethylene Carbonate), which is a raw material of an electrolyte, by 25% to 10,000 tons from last year up until May of this year.
Foosung, which is a South Korean electrolyte manufacturer, invested about $81.4 million (93.0 billion KRW) in this past June and announced its plan for a large-scale extension that will increase yearly production capacity of its subsidiary in China from 400 tons to more than 2,000 tons.
Sumitomo, which is the world’s biggest NCA (Nickel Cobalt Aluminum) anode material manufacturer, recently invested about $35 million (40 billion KRW) and announced that it will increase its previous plan for increase in production capacity by 1,000 tons more. It is making such plan due to increase in output of batteries of Panasonic, which is one of its major customers.
Ecopro, which is the number two business in the world for production of NCA followed by Sumitomo, is going to operate its CAM4 line that can produce 450 tons of NCA per month sometime during second half of this year.
L&F, which produces NCM (Nickel Manganese Cobalt)-affiliated anode material, recently finished extending anode material production line at its new factory in Daegu and started operating this production line. Yearly production capacity of L&F has increased to 15,000 tons. It is looking to making additional extensions according to increase in number of demands.
COSMO AM&T, which produces LCO (Lithium Cobalt Oxide)-affiliated anode material, recently finished converted its facility from having 50 tons of annual production capacity to having 100 tons of annual production capacity. With this investment, COSMO AM&T’s annual production capacity increased by 1,000 tons and is currently at 5,500 tons.
POSCO CHEMTECH, which is the only South Korean company that produces natural graphite-affiliated cathode material, held a building completion ceremony of its number 5 cathode material production facility last month. This facility can produce 2,000 tons of graphite-affiliated cathode material annually, and POSCO CHEMTECH now has a production system that can produce 8,000 tons of graphite-affiliated cathode materials annually starting from second half of this year.
Reason why South Korean and Japanese businesses are actively extending their facilities is to secure leadership through active investments since electric vehicle markets are expanding faster than expectations. France and England have decided to ban sales of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040. Expectations for electric vehicle markets are growing bigger as China, which is the world’s biggest electric vehicle market, announced that it will be carrying out an electric car mandate system. Announcement of investments is acting as a positive factor within markets as stocks of businesses are rising whenever they announce their plans for extensions in spite of financial burden.
“Although Chinese businesses are making progress in lithium-ion battery markets, South Korean and Japanese businesses are still the ones that are leading these markets.” said a representative for an industry. “They are taking appropriate actions in advance according to increase in number of demands since it is still too much to satisfy current demands with current production capacities.”
Staff Reporter Jung, Hyeonjung | firstname.lastname@example.org
14th August 2017, http://english.etnews.com/20170814200002