Plants: Mitsui Chemicals to boost output of COC; LG Chem to expand CNT output

Mitsui Chemicals to boost output of COC

Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals is to establish a new plant within Osaka Works, Takaishi, Osaka Prefecture, to produce its APEL series of cyclic olefin copolymers, with an additional line. Finding its major application in smartphone camera lenses, APEL is said to meet with surging demand driven by a recent trend toward multi-lens cameras in these devices. Mitsui Chemicals is therefore looking to set up a supply system able to deal with this increased demand.

By establishing the new plant, Mitsui says production capacity for APEL will rise by approximately 50%. Construction on the new plant is slated to wrap up in March 2022. It already operates one line each at Iwakuni-Ohtake Works and Osaka Works, making for a total of two lines currently.

Plans going forward are to further grow the APEL business by capturing new demand in applications such as automotive cameras, head-mounted displays and the medical sector.

Mitsui says it expects that it will be able to continue meeting increased demand here for the time being. But to properly respond to further demand growth going forward, it says it will now begin to also consider its next production increase for the series.

 LG Chem to expand CNT output

Meanwhile, with the carbon nanotube (CNT) market growing at 30% a year with growth primarily driven by use in conductive additives used in lithium ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles (EVs/ HEVs), South Korea’s LG Chem is to more than triple its capacity, from 500 tonnes/year to 1,700 tonnes/year, at its production facility in Yeosu.

CNT possesses the electric and heat conductivity equivalent to copper and diamond, and is 100-times stronger than steel. It finds use in wide ranging applications, including batteries, semiconductors, automobile parts, and aircraft fuselages.

When used as an anode conductive additive in batteries, less material is needed compared with traditional carbon black, meaning more of the anode material itself, comprised of active materials such as nickel, cobalt and manganese, can be used, thereby boosting the capacity and life of lithium ion batteries.

CNT demand is expected to post explosive growth of an annual average of about 34% to rise from 3,000 tonnes in 2019 to 13,000 tonnes by 2024 mainly centring on the global EV market. In particular, as a world leader in 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 car makers in North America, Europe and China and it is also scheduled to review plans for additional expansions in 2022.

LG Chem began R&D to develop proprietary carbon nanotube technologies in 2011 and constructed a 20-tonne/year pilot production line in 2013. In 2014, it developed battery material and conductive compound products and it currently possesses over 250 patents in CNT-related fields alone.

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 layers inside high-voltage cable sheaths, and high-strength concrete for architecture.


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