Asahi Kasei to expand LIB separator production as demand for EV batteries accelerates

by John Shepherd
Asahi president Hideki Kobori. Investment in separators' business part of sustainable growth initiative. Photo: Asahi Kasei
Asahi Kasei is investing to ramp up production capacity for its Hipore wet-process lithium-ion battery (LIB) separators, in response to "rapid growth” of the batteries market amid increasing demand for electric vehicles.

The company is to invest JPY 30bn (£199m) for a production increase of about 350m sq metres at its existing facility in the city of Hyuga, in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture – with start-up of the expansion scheduled for the first half of fiscal 2023.

Asahi Kasei said that on completion, the latest expansion would raise its wet-process capacity to 1.35bn sq metres annually and take total capacity to 1.9bn sq metres per year – combined with 550m sq metres per year in dry-process capacity.

Investment pledge

The Hyuga announcement follows a pledge made last year by Asahi Kasei’s president, Hideki Kobori, to invest in the sustainable expansion of the group in line with its ‘Cs+ for Tomorrow 2021’ initiative.

Kobori said then that, despite the "tough condition of the entire automobile market” as a result of the pandemic, the volume of electric vehicles would continue to grow – underpinning the group’s world-leading role as a LIB separator manufacturer.

The use of both wet- and dry-process LIB separators by major battery manufacturers "is a synergy from which we will increasingly benefit”, Kobori said.

The company has been expanding its environmentally-friendly LIB separators business, with another wet-process manufacturing plant in Moriyama, in Japan’s Shiga Prefecture and dry-process manufacturing in the US state of North Carolina.