The South Korean battery cell manufacturer LG Chem is investing 500 billion won (424 million dollars) in the construction of a factory to manufacture cathode material for lithium-ion batteries.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the new plant in the city of Gumi in southeast South Korea is scheduled to take place next year and cathode production will start at the end of 2022. Up to 1,000 jobs are to be created in the factory. LG Chem already operates two production plants for cathodes in South Korea, another one in China is still under construction.
In current lithium-ion batteries, the cathode consists of lithium and a mixture of nickel, cobalt and manganese. The exact composition is important not only for the use of raw materials, but also for the properties of the cell. It is not yet known which specification LG Chem intends to produce in the new plant.
In other plants, the individual components are then joined together to form battery cells. The thin cathode films and the anode films (usually made of graphite) are separated from a separator film and then packaged in an insulating film. The cell is then filled with a liquid electrolyte that prevents the direct flow of charges between the anode and cathode – they have to take the “detour” via the connected consumers (in cars primarily the electric motor).
However, the most important and most complex component is the cathode. LG Chem President Jeong Ho-young therefore announced that he intended to expand capacities by 35 per cent instead of the 20 per cent planned so far. LG Chem supplies not only Korean carmakers, but also General Motors and Volkswagen, among others.