LG Chem (Seoul, South Korea) announced that it will invest about 65 billion KRW (around $54 million) by Q1 of next year to expand production of carbon nanotubes (CNT) by 1,200 tons at the company’s Yeosu plant.
Once the expansion is made, LG Chem will have a total production capacity of 1,700 tons by adding to the existing 500 tons.
CNT is a next-generation new material having the same electric and heat conductivity equivalent to copper and diamonds, and its intensity is 100 times of steel. Thanks to its properties that are superior to existing materials, its use is wide ranging, including batteries, semiconductors, automobile parts, aircraft fuselages, etc.
Regarding this extension, LG Chem stated that this measure was taken to not only target the global EV market, but also the CNT market that has recently been rapidly growing for use in anode conductive additives for lithium ion batteries.
Conductive additives are materials that help with the flow of electricity and electrons used in small and medium lithium-ion batteries. In particular, it increases conductivity of lithium ions within the anode material comprised of active materials such as nickel, cobalt and manganese.
By using CNTs as anode conductive additives, it is possible to realize high conductivity greater than 10%, compared to existing carbon black, while reducing the use of conductive materials by about 30%, and that space can be filled with necessary anode materials to increase the capacity and life of lithium ion batteries.
Thanks to these features, CNT demand is expected to post explosive growth of an annual average of about 34% to rise from 3,000 tons last year to 13,000 tons by 2024 mainly centering on the global EV market.
In particular, as the world leader of EV batteries, LG Chem plans to further strengthen product competitiveness by actively utilizing CNT lithium ion batteries.
It also plans to gradually increase sales to global IT materials companies and end-car makers in North America, Europe and China and it is also scheduled to review plans for additional extensions in 2022.
Through this investment, LG Chem will be able to accelerate its product structure advancement strategies based on distinguished technologies that it is pursuing in the petrochemical sector.
Through the world’s largest fluidized bed reactor that it developed, it constructed a massive production system and it is actively targeting the market through various CNT products ranging from existing powder forms to compressed forms that are convenient for clients to use.
Plans are also in place to develop a variety of new uses for applying CNT, such as gang forms (large casts for construction), semi-conductive layers inside high-voltage cable sheaths, high strength concrete for architecture, and commercialize these in the market.
Noh Kug-lae, head of the Petrochemical Company, said, “We must lead the market with distinguished technologies and products to survive in the global materials competition,” while adding, “We will become a dominant market leader in the next-generation high-value materials including CNTs based on our unique proprietary technologies and experiences in mass production.”