CATL sources special cathode additives from Toyo
Chinese battery maker CATL will use Toyocolor’s Lioaccum conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions in batteries for electric vehicles from 2024. The dispersions should, among other things, increase energy density. Toyocolor, a subsidiary of the Japanese speciality chemicals company Toyo Ink, also plans to expand production capacity for these CNT dispersions.
According to Toyo Ink, Lioaccum dispersions containing CNTs are used as an additive in lithium-ion cathodes to increase battery capacity and energy density. However, it does not say how much of an improvement CATL can realize with it at the cell level.
However, Toyo says that its in-house dispersion technology makes it possible to overcome previous technical hurdles “and achieve highly stable CNT dispersions of high quality.” Stable dispersion of carbon nanotubes is considered difficult to implement – the technology has shown advantages on paper and in the laboratory. Still, due to insufficiently stable dispersion, large-scale production has not yet been feasible.
Toyo’s development builds on carbon black dispersion used for cathodes since 2015. Now that carbon black is replaced by CNT, the conductivity of the cathode material in the lithium-ion battery increases. “This enables battery manufacturers to significantly lower the internal resistance of LIB cathodes with a smaller amount of conductive material,” the Japanese company writes. “These technical advances not only reduce material costs in battery manufacturing but also result in a higher proportion of active materials in the cathode, which can increase battery capacity, extend the range of electric vehicles and improve the fast-charging performance of electric vehicles.”
To meet CATL’s needs, Toyo will expand capacity at its production facility in Guangdong, China. Toyo also announced its second CNT dispersions plant in the US – but not specifically because of the CATL order. The new production facility in Franklin, Kentucky, is scheduled to start production in 2025, gradually increasing the group’s capacity in the US to four times its current level. Toyo’s customers also include South Korean battery maker SK On.
SK On has been building two battery factories in Kentucky with Ford through the BlueOval SK joint venture since 2022, with another under construction in Tennessee. In addition, Hyundai and SK On announced that they are also building a joint battery plant in the US state of Georgia – with production scheduled to start in 2025.