LG Chemical advances electric vehicle battery production process

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First adoption of 6㎛ copper foil
PNT machines are used instead of a Japanese company’s machine

LG Chem succeeded in upgrading production process of EV batteries. It was confirmed on the 21st Jan. that ultra-thin copper foil with a thickness of 6 micrometers (µm) was applied for the first time. They are preparing for mass production at a plant in Nanjing in China. It has achieved results in about a year since it started test production from the beginning of the last year.

Copper foil is a material used as a current collector of anode electrode. In the meantime, LG Chem mainly used products with a thickness of 7㎛~15㎛ for electric vehicle batteries. As the copper foil becomes thinner, the energy density can be increased, but it is not easy to emit heat as the copper foil heats up quickly.

The production process was also a challenge. It is said that copper foil was so thin that it had a considerable difficulty in the anode coating and drying process. With the rapid roll to roll converting process in progress, the drying temperature reaches up to 150°C, causing the copper foil to crack and break.

LG Chem solved the problem by changing its machinery supplier from Hirano Techseed in Japan to PNT in Korea. The copper foil that was crumpled and broken on Hirano’s machine worked smoothly on the machine of PNT. Industry experts believe that PNT may have grasped the characteristics of the material itself, given that it has long been manufacturing copper foil production machines. “The coating equipment supplied to LG Chem’s Nanjing plant is now working well.” said an official at PNT.

According to Essence Securities Co., Ltd. in China, the energy density of pouch- type batteries using NCM622 cathode material was found to be 530Wh/L for LG Chem and 540Wh/L for SK Innovation. In the case of the battery life cycle (the number of times that 100% is charged after using all the power), LG Chem’s battery can be used more than 2000 cyles. For SK Innovation, 1500~2000 cycles are possible. As LG Chem successfully applied 6㎛ copper foil, they are now able to outpace SK Innovation in energy density and life.

On the other hand, from the perspective of copper foil manufacturers such as SK Nexilis(SKC, KCFT) and Iljin Materials, the amount of 6μm products to be supplied to LG Chem may increase further. Although copper foil is not one of the four key materials for batteries such as anode materials, cathode materials, separator, and electrolyte, demand is increasing due to increased production of electric vehicles. The global copper foil market for electric vehicle batteries is expected to grow 17 times to 1.52 million tons in 2025, compared to 90,000 tons in 2018. It accounts for about 5 to 6 percent of production cost of batteries.

21 January 2020
Source : © THE ELEC, Korea Electronics Industry Media

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This article is an unofficial English version translated by PNT for clients’ reference only.
The original Korean version article can be found at the link below.
( http://www.thelec.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=4810 )

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