Battery materials: Lotte Chemical/Sasol in feasibility study for EV battery materials; Toray/LG Chem in US$375 mn battery separator film jv in Hungary

Lotte Chemical/Sasol in feasibility study for EV battery materials

Sasol Chemicals, a business unit of Sasol Ltd. and South Korean firm Lotte Chemical will conduct a pre-feasibility study of a joint project to build a plant to produce battery-grade electrolyte solvents, key components of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

The companies will assess the suitability of Sasol’s locations near Lake Charles in the US and Marl in Germany for a facility that could produce a variety of battery-grade electrolyte solvents, using feedstock provided by Sasol and third parties and employing proprietary technologies of both Lotte and third-party licensors.

Electrolyte solvents enable lithium-ion batteries by allowing lithium ions to travel more easily between the battery’s anode and cathode. Lithium-ion batteries are likely to be the key power source for electric vehicles.

"The increase in battery demand is driving the rapid growth of demand for the key materials that constitute a lithium-ion battery. Lotte Chemical will lead the global battery materials market quantitatively and qualitatively by rapidly expanding our battery materials business," said Young-Jun Lee, Head of the Battery Materials Business Group for Lotte Chemical.

"This agreement is consistent with our strategy to answer the sustainability challenge through the solutions we provide our customers," said Shelley Grahmann, Vice President of Strategy Development and Optimisation for Sasol Chemicals.

"With an existing Sasol footprint and strong site infrastructure available in Marl, and the development of our Lake Charles site as a sustainability hub, we are eager to determine if either site would be ideally suited for a facility to provide key materials to the lithium-ion battery market." The project will also consider options to minimise carbon footprint, such as the usage of renewable energy.

Toray/LG Chem in US$375 mn battery separator film jv in Hungary

Meanwhile in other new, Japanese firm Toray Industries has set up a 50:50 joint venture with South Korea’s LG Chem, following the announcement last year that Toray had concluded an agreement with LG Chem to form a battery separator film joint venture in Hungary.

The new company will be called LG Toray Hungary Battery Separator (LTHS), whose main business will be the production and sales of battery separator films.

Toray and LG Chem have established the jv through the investment of US$375 million by LG Chem in Toray Industries Hungary Kft. (THU), a wholly owned Toray subsidiary which manufactures and sells separator film for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in Hungary.

The new jv will use existing THU facilities to manufacture battery separator film for automotive lithium-ion batteries for sale to LG Group in Europe and the US.

To cater to projected demand growth, Toray and LG Chem have agreed to expand film substrate production facilities and install new coating facilities at the existing THU location.

Toray has agreed to sell 20% of its stake in LTHS to LG Chem two and a half years after launching the joint venture. LG Chem would then manage joint venture operations.

LG Chem’s robust position in coating technology and Toray’s solid film substrate manufacturing technologies position those two entities well in battery separator films for automotive lithium-ion batteries, and both have been supplying to the global market.

LTHS will license from LG Chem and Toray the technologies necessary to produce separators for LG Group lithium-ion batteries. It should generate synergies from the technologies of its parents to produce top-quality automotive lithium-ion battery separator films, for which demand should surge in coming years. This joint venture should also secure stable customers and expand operations by drawing on the LG Group’s business model, which vertically integrates everything from battery materials through battery production.

Toray adds it will continue to develop, manufacture, and supply battery separator film and coating in Japan and Korea to meet customer needs.


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