LG CHEM is more than tripling its production of carbon nanotubes for the burgeoning electric vehicle market with a US$53m expansion of its Yeosu plant in South Korea.
The chemicals firm uses what it claims is the world’s largest fluidised bed reactor to produce 500 t/y of carbon nanotubes. It will invest KRW65bn by Q1 next year to expand output to 1,700 t. It predicts that market demand for carbon nanotubes will climb from 3,000 t in 2019 to 13,000 t by 2024.
Carbon nanotubes are lightweight, have high tensile strength and conduct heat and electricity well. This makes them attractive for a wide variety of applications and are currently used in batteries, semi-conductors and as additives to improve the strength and conductivity of products including pipes and vehicle components.
The company said it will target sales to the electric vehicle battery market and as a conductive additive for use in lithium ion batteries. LG Chem said that carbon nanotubes have higher conductivity than the carbon black currently used in anodes so less material is needed, providing more space that can be used to increase the capacity of batteries. LG Chem plans to apply this technology in the electric vehicle batteries that it already manufactures for carmakers.
It is also planning to commercialise carbon nanotubes for new uses including in the semi-conductive layer inside high voltage cable sheaths and in high strength concrete for architecture.
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