LG Chem announced on April 27 that it will invest about 65 billion won by the first quarter of next year to expand carbon nanotube (CNT) production at its plant in Yeosu by 1,2000 tons.
Once the expansion is made, LG Chem will have a total production capacity of 1,700 tons.
CNT is a next-generation new material having the same electric and heat conductivity as 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 and aircraft fuselages.
LG Chem stated that the expansion was designed to target the global EV market and 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 realize high conductivity upwards of about 10 percent compared to existing carbon black and reduce the amount of conductive material usage by about 30 percent, 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 percent to rise from 3,000 tons last year to 13,000 tons by 2024.
In particular, as a 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 expansion 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.
LG Chem began full-fledged R&D to develop proprietary carbon nanotube technologies in 2011 and constructed a 20-ton 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 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 form (large casts for construction), semi-conductive layer inside high-voltage cable sheaths, high strength concrete for architecture, etc. and commercialize 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.”