LG Chem revealed an expansion plan to add 1,200 ton/year capacity to its carbon nanotube (CNT) factory in Yeosu. The company is spending around KRW 65 billion by the first quarter of 2021. The Yeosu factory would have a 1,700-ton capacity after the expansion.
The company explained that the purpose of the investment is to enhance its presence in the CNT market, as carbon nanotube is rapidly gaining popularity as a conductive additive for lithium-ion batteries, which is the core part of electric vehicles. If used as a conductive additive of battery anodes, CNT can realize a 10% higher conductivity compared to conventional carbon black. It will, in turn, reduce the amount of conductive additive needed, allow more anode material to fill the space instead for more battery capacity and lifespan, the company said.
CNT demand is soaring along with growing EV market thanks to these outstanding characteristics. The demand is expected to reach 13,000 tons per year by 2024 from 2019’s 3,000 tons, which is a 34% yearly growth on average.
LG Chem is planning to enhance its CNT sales for electronic material companies and carmakers in Europe, China, and the US. An additional capacity expansion might follow in 2022, the company hinted.
LG Chem started R&D for CNT in 2011, and built a 20-ton pilot production line in 2013. Now it owns around 250 patents related to CNT. The company offers various forms of CNT products, from conventional CNT power to compressed ones.
On May 7, LG Chem revealed a new company vision in 14 years, dubbed as “We connect science to life for a better future.” Emphasizing the transition from just ‘Chemistry’ to ‘Science,’ the new vision should provide a new company culture as well as “innovation that supersedes chemicals due to the rapidly changing business environment surrounding the company amidst the trends of the fourth industrial revolution and digital transformation (DX), in addition to changes in its business portfolio.”
On the same day, as if celebrating the new vision, market researcher SNE Research released a global EV battery ranking, in which LG Chem took the top position. LG Chem seized 27.1% of Q12020 EV battery market with 5.5GWh, followed by Panasonic (25.7%, 5.2GWh), CATL (17.4%, 3.6GWh), Samsung SDI (6.0%, 1.2GWh), and AESC (5.6%, 1.1GWh). The high sales of Tesla Model 3, Audi e-tron, and Renault Zoe has paved the way to the top, the researcher said.
According to LG Chem’s Q1 Business Performance statement released in April 28, the company recorded KRW 7.1157 trillion of sales with KRW 236.5 billion of operating profit. The results exceeded expectations due to “▲strong performance in the petrochemical company ▲reduced deficit in energy solutions, and ▲improved profitability in advanced materials” it said.