LG Chem mass produces single crystal cathode materials

The South Korean chemical company LG Chem has started mass production of single-crystal cathode materials with high nickel content at its plant in Cheongju. The first batches will be shipped to customers worldwide from July onwards.

LG has not yet revealed which customers will be supplied with the material, only that the material will initially be for pouch cells. Cheongju, 120 kilometres southwest of Seoul, is one of LG’s two current production facilities for cathode materials in South Korea. Along with the second site in Iksan, LG Chem has a production capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year. LG says the production of the new, single-crystal cathode material in Cheongju is only the first step in a larger plan.

LG Chem plans to expand the production line for high nickel single crystal cathodes at its Gumi plant by 2027 and increase total annual production to more than 50,000 tonnes. The Gumi plant, located about 260 kilometres southeast of Seoul, was announced in early 2022 and is expected to scale up to 60,000 tonnes per year. Commissioning in Gumi is earlier scheduled for 2024.

In the initial phase, LG Chem says it will mix single-crystal cathode materials with conventional cathode materials in a 2:8 ratio and gradually switch to those that are 100 per cent single crystals. LG Chem plans to expand the use of these cathode materials from pouch cells to next-generation batteries, such as 4680 round cells, in the future.

LG Chem expects single-crystalline cathodes with high nickel content to play a pivotal role in resolving the key challenges of next-generation batteries in terms of lifespan and capacity. The cathodes should extend battery life by more than 30 per cent and increase capacity by 10 per cent or more. Besides nickel, the cathodes contain metal particles such as cobalt and manganese.

“We believe single-crystal high-nickel cathodes are a game-changing innovation in the future battery material market and also the key to solving our customers’ pain points,” said LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-cheol. “LG Chem will lead the market with advanced battery material technology and diversified product portfolio to become the largest integrated battery materials provider in the world.”



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