SK IE Technology has decided to build two new Polish plants for separators used in electric car batteries. The subsidiary of South Korean battery cell manufacturer SK Innovation is already building two plants in Poland, with construction of plants 3 and 4 scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2021.
SK IE Technology says it wants to increase its production capacities in Poland by 860 million to 1.54 billion square metres with the two additional plants in Silonsk. The commissioning of the two plants now announced is planned for “Q4 2023 – Q2 2024”. The investment amounts to 1.13 trillion won, equivalent to about 850 million euros.
While Plants 3 and 4 have a capacity of 430 million square metres each, Plants 1 and 2 are somewhat smaller with 340 million square metres each. For the first separator plant, SK now states that production should start in the third quarter of this year. For Plant 2, this step is planned for the first quarter of 2023. SK IET had only commissioned a new separator plant in Changzhou, China, in November 2020. This was the first separator plant outside Korea for the group.
In Korea, the SK subsidiary has capacities of 530 million square metres of separator film per year. With Changzhou, another 340 million square metres have been added. However, there are more plants in China in the pipeline, but they are somewhat smaller at 170 million square metres each. If no further plants are added or expanded, SK IET would have a capacity of 2.75 billion square metres when it starts operations in Poland in 2024 at the latest.
SKI will probably use the LIBS (lithium-ion battery separator) produced in Poland in its battery cells. SKI already has two cell factories there (the second plant in Komárom is still under construction) and announced a third battery cell factory in Iváncsa at the end of January.
The separator is an important factor for the safety and performance of lithium-ion cells. These components account for around 15 to 20 per cent of battery costs.
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