Despite the healthy growth of the lithium battery separator market in China, predicted overcapacity will bring ruthless competition in the next few years.
Boosted by demand for mobile power systems, electronic cigarettes and smart phones, China's lithium battery market expanded more than 25 percent in 2013, creating growth opportunities for plastic separators, according to information released at an industry conference last week in Beijing.
However, the capacity seems to be building at an even faster rate. By the end of last year, China housed a total of 54 separator manufacturers, 19 of which with commercial production. The industry's annual capacity has reached 649 million square meters.
Combined with projects that are still in the construction or planning stages, total capacity will reach 2.3 billion square meters by 2015, exceeding the world's demand.
Liao Kaiming, deputy general manager of Foshan Jinhui Hi-Tech Optoelectronic Material Co. Ltd., believes the industry will see leaders taking a bigger hold.
“Those without the best technology, branding, and financial backing will be forced out, especially small and midsized companies,” he said in his speech.
Future research and development will focus on improving yield, heat resistance, thickness reduction and absorbent properties, as well as new products such as polymer electrolyte separator and fiber separator, he added.
The Feb. 28 conference was co-organized by the China Plastics Processing Industry Association and the China Battery Industry Association, both based in Beijing.