SK Innovation Co., the energy solutions arm of SK Group, will seek to increase the production of lithium-ion battery separator (LiBS), a core component for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, by 30 percent and win the largest share in the global market by 2020.
The company announced on Apr. 28 that it will start the construction to expand two LiBS production lines (unit 10 and 11) at the Jeungpyeong plant in North Chungcheong Province from next month.
LiBS is a technological component that separates negative and positive electrodes in smartphone and EV batteries that help prevent possible explosion or ignition. It is a micrometer-thin film divided into dry or wet according to the manufacturing methods. SK Innovation produces wet LiBS, which takes more money to produce but has excellence in quality and strength.
Once the company completes the construction of expanding its manufacturing facility in the first half of 2018, it will be capable of producing 330 million square meters of LiBS per year. The volume is enough to be fit and support 1 million all-electric vehicles.
SK Innovation, the world’s second-largest LiBS producer with a 26 percent share in the wet LiBS market as of 2015, plans to become the world’s largest after expansion by 2020, surpassing Japan’s Asahi Kasei.
The company ended the three-year court battle with Celgard, the current Asahi Kasei, over separator patent rights by mutual consent last month, removing uncertainties.
SK Innovation was the first in the country and third in the world to develop its own commercial-use battery separators in 2004, and begin the first commercial production at the first line in the Cheongju plant, North Chungcheong Province, in Jan. 20015. The company accomplished surplus in two years after the commercial production and increased the number of its production lines to nine in 2014.
SK Innovation plans to diversify its business portfolio by strengthening new businesses, like EV battery, in addition to existing refining and petrochemical businesses in a bid to establish a business structure that make a profit despite the economic recession.