Showa Denko to Expand Production Capacities for Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery Materials

July 19, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) has decided to expand its production capacities for materials used in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries (LIBs), namely, artificial-graphite-based anode material (SCMG™), additive in anodes and cathodes (VGCF™), and aluminum laminated films for packaging.

SDK will expand the capacity of its SCMG plant at Omachi, Nagano Prefecture, by stages from 1,000 t/y at present to 3,000 t/y by the middle of 2012 through debottlenecking of respective processes, including crushing.

As for VGCF, SDK will add a new production line at its Kawasaki Plant, Kanagawa Prefecture, increasing the production capacity from 100 t/y at present to 200 t/y by the beginning of 2012.

Furthermore, SDK’s subsidiary Showa Denko Packaging Co., Ltd. will expand its aluminum laminated film production capacity at its Hikone Plant, Shiga Prefecture, by 50% by the end of 2011 through addition of a new dry laminator.

Demand for environment-friendly electric vehicles and hybrid cars is growing due to the need to curb emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Furthermore, storage batteries for industrial and household applications have been attracting attention since the rolling blackouts that followed the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. Thus, demand for large LIBs for automotive and storage battery applications is expected to grow rapidly in and after 2013. SDK has therefore decided to increase its production capacities for SCMG and VGCF, which contribute toward increasing the capacity and extending the life of LIBs.

Furthermore, demand for small LIBs used in notebook PCs and mobile phones is expected to rise, reflecting the growth of smart phones and tablet-type devices. Thus, SDK has decided to expand its production capacity for aluminum laminated film for LIB packaging, which contributes toward miniaturization of LIBs. SDK will also aim to broaden the application of this packaging material into LIBs for environment-friendly cars in view of its advantages of compactness and high heat dissipation.

SCMG stands for "structure controlled micro graphite." We use artificial graphite produced through treatment at very high temperatures in our graphitization furnace at Omachi Plant, based on our proprietary powder processing technology. SCMG is used as graphite anode material for LIBs, providing excellent cycle characteristics, retaining capacity at high temperatures, and enabling charge/discharge of heavy current. This material is suited to large LIBs installed in environment-friendly cars and storage batteries. SCMG is already used in electric vehicles on a commercial basis.

VGCF is used as electrically-conductive additive in LIBs’ anodes and cathodes. 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 branched fibers with high dispersion. Thus, addition of a small amount of VGCF helps increase the capacity and extend the life of LIBs. Because of its high electrical conductivity and its ability to restrict heat generation in electrodes, VGCF can enhance the safety of LIBs.