Asahi Kasei expands global separator production capacity

Asahi Kasei continues to invest in its separator business for EV batteries and plans to install new coating lines at its LIB separator plants globally. The capacity expansion will enable the Japanese technology group to supply coated battery separators for up to 1.7 million electric vehicles.

Image: Asahi Kasei

Asahi Kasei lists the US, Japan and South Korea, where the new lines are scheduled to start up sequentially from the first half of the 2026 financial year, which starts in April.

The expansion announced today will raise Asahi Kasei’s coating capacity for LIB separators to approximately 1.2 billion m2/year, enabling the supply of coated separators for batteries equivalent to said 1.7 million electric vehicles.

The company has earmarked about 40 billion yen, equivalent to 250 million euros. The plants in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hyuga in the Japanese province of Miyazaki and Pyeongtaek in South Korea are involved, while Asahi Kasei expects “significant expansion of electric vehicle production”, especially in North America.

The expansion regards wet-process separators for automotive applications, which run under the Hipore label at Asahi Kasei. The company adds that it would also “continue to study proactive investments,” which could lead to entirely new factories in North America and Japan.

Hiroyoshi Matsuyama, Senior Executive Officer, said, “Expanding Hipore operations globally to keep pace with the electric vehicle market is an important milestone for our separator business.” He added, “With the help of our established global locations, we can do that quickly by investing in existing infrastructure and then expanding further with new greenfield sites as needed to meet regional demand.”

Asahi Kasei supplies two types of Hipore wet-process LIB separators: a film membrane and a coated membrane separator produced by applying ceramic and other coatings to the base film.

Separator films are thin, microporous polyolefin films between the cathode and anode of lithium-ion batteries. They prevent contact between the electrodes, which would cause a short circuit, while lithium ions can move freely between the electrodes.

Asahi Kasei had already announced an investment of over 200 million euros to expand its production of lithium-ion battery separators in spring 2019. At that time, the group targeted increasing the production volume by 450 million to 1.55 billion square metres per year by 2021 and an output of three billion square metres for 2025. Both wet and dry process separators were included in the calculations.

The dry separators are manufactured by Celgard, an Asahi Kasei Group company specialising in these membranes, used in electric vehicles, energy storage systems and emergency backup power systems, as well as consumer electronic devices. The global tech company is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.


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