Japanese materials supplier Asahi Kasei Corp. will invest more than $270 million in the U.S. and Japan to more than double its production of lithium ion battery (LIB) separators.
The company did not specify how much of that investment will go to its Celgard LIB plant in Charlotte, N.C., but did say in March 14 news release that the expansion will take place within the grounds of its existing plant.
Celgard's separators are made with a combination of polypropylene and polyethylene films.
The wet process films made under the Hipore name in Moriyama, Japan, use polyolefin.
“Rapid growth of the LIB market is primarily driven by automotive applications due to increasing demand for electric-drive vehicles and by energy storage systems, due to a greater adoption of renewable power sources,” Asahi Kasei officials said in the release.
Asahi Kasei says it is the world's leading supplier of LIB separators.
Total investment in the two plants is expected to hit 30 million yen ($270 million).
Capacity for Hipore separators in Japan will increase to 1 billion square meters per year by the end of 2021 from 410 million square meters per year in 2018. Celgard separator capacity in North Carolina will climb to 550 million square meters from 320 million square meters.
By 2025, Asahi Kasei aims to make a total of 3 billion square meters of LIB separators.
A lithium-ion battery separator is a thin microporous film placed between the cathode and anode of lithium-ion batteries. It prevents contact between the electrodes which would cause a short circuit, while allowing lithium ions to pass between the electrodes.