South Korea: Mega Expansion LG Chem to Invest 53 Million Dollars to Expand Carbon Nanotubes Production
LG Chem aims to expand production capacity of carbon nanotubes (CNT) by 1,200 tonnes at its Yeosu plant in South Korea. The move is in line with the rapidly growing CNT market around the world.
South Korea – LG Chem is actively pioneering the carbon nanotube market, which is called a dream material. Related to this, LG Chem announced on April 27 that it will invest about 65 billion KRW (53 million dollars) by Q1 of next year to expand CNT by 1,200 tonnes at the Yeosu plant in South Korea.
Once the expansion is made, LG Chem will have a total production capacity of 1,700 tonnes by adding the existing 500 tonnes.
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 more than 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 of lithium ion batteries.
By using CNTs as anode conductive additives, it is possible to realise high conductivity upwards of about 10 % as compared to existing carbon black and reduce the amount of conductive materials usage 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, the CNT demand is expected to post explosive growth of an annual average of about 34 % to rise from 3,000 tonnes last year to 13,000 tonnes 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 utilising 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.
Pioneering the future market with a mass production system based on proprietary technologies
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.
LG Chem began full-fledged R&D to develop proprietary carbon nanotube technologies in 2011 and constructed a 20-tonne pilot mass production line in 2013. In 2014, it developed battery material and conductive compound products and it currently possesses over 250 patents in just CNT-related fields.
Through the world’s largest fluidised 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 form (large casts for construction), semi-conductive layer inside high-voltage cable sheaths, high strength concrete for architecture, etc. and commercialise it 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.”