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SDK to Expand VGCF Production Capacity for Use in Automotive LIBs

Published: Aug 12,2016

Showa Denko has decided to expand production capacity for VGCF(TM), carbon nanofiber added to cathodes and anodes of lithium ion batteries (LIBs) to improve electrical conductivity.

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Specifically, SDK will gradually increase its VGCF production capacity at Kawasaki Plant, Kanagawa Prefecture, from 200t/y at present to 300t/y by the end of 2017, to meet growing demand for large LIBs used in cars.

Demand for LIB materials has been growing rapidly. This is because demand for large LIBs is increasing mainly for automotive applications, in addition to demand for small LIBs for smartphones. In particular, the electric vehicle (EV) market in China is expanding substantially, while EVs are launched in Europe at an accelerated pace due to tighter control on CO2 emissions. Thus, the LIB market is expected to continue its steady growth.

While SDK strengthened its LIB-material-supply system from time to time in response to market growth, the company has decided to further expand VGCF production capacity because the current market growth exceeds original forecast.

The production capacity is to be increased, as a first step, to 250t/y in the first half of 2017. Then, confirming the market trends, SDK will increase the capacity further to 300t/y by the end of 2017.

VGCF, which stands for vapor grown carbon fiber, is used as electrically-conductive additive in LIB cathodes and anodes. LIBs swell and shrink after repeated charges and discharges, resulting in the loss of contact between active materials.

Electrically-conductive additives connect active materials, reducing deterioration of batteries. Compared with grain-type additives, VGCF gives better performance because it consists of fibers with high dispersion. Thus, addition of a small amount of VGCF helps increase the capacity and extend the life of LIBs. VGCF also has high thermal conductivity, promoting heat dissipation from electrodes and enhancing the safety of LIBs.

Under the new medium-term business plan "Project 2020+," the Showa Denko Group classifies the LIB materials business in the "Advantage-establishing" category, aiming to increase its annual sales to 30 billion yen in 2018.

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