BTL Advanced Material Succeeds in Developing Aluminum Pouch Film for Batteries

Aug 06, 2019

South Korean businesses are highly dependent on Japanese businesses for aluminum pouch film that is one of major materials related to battery. Reduced certification period and materialization of unit cost are two key tasks that must be fulfilled in order to begin home production of aluminum pouch film.
According to South Korea’s battery industry, BTL Advanced Material recently succeeded in developing aluminum pouch film that has similar performance as Japanese aluminum pouch films. It is heard that BTL started discussing with multiple South Korean businesses regarding supply of its aluminum pouch films since Japanese Government started regulating exportation of semiconductor materials.
Aluminum pouch film is a material that is used as an exterior material for pouch-type batteries. It is made by stacking 7 to 10 layers of nylon, aluminum, and PP film to secure safety. DNP and SHOWA DENKO currently own 70% of the shares of aluminum pouch film markets in the world. Three major South Korean battery manufacturers have all of their aluminum pouch films imported from Japanese businesses.
South Korean businesses’ attempt to begin home production of aluminum pouch film started ten years ago. Heesung Chemical planned development of aluminum pouch film for secondary batteries since 2009 and it even received a certification from a South Korean battery manufacturer. However, South Korean battery industry believes that unit cost is the reason why Heesung Chemical could not begin home production of aluminum pouch films.
“While products from two Japanese businesses cost between $3.6 and $6.5 per m2 in China, they are sold 30 to 50% cheaper in South Korea on purpose in order to weaken major corporations’ will to develop their own aluminum pouch films and to block new businesses from coming into their market.” said a representative for the industry. “Although South Korean battery manufacturers can reduce production costs at the moment, they may face a situation where they do not have alternatives if there is an issue with supply.”

BTL Advanced Material’s aluminum pouch film for lithium-ion batteries <BTL Advanced Material’s aluminum pouch film for lithium-ion batteries>

Unlike South Korea, China is accelerating the process of home production of aluminum pouch films. Selen Science & Technology acquired a Japanese pouch manufacturer called TOPPAN for $82 million (100 billion KRW) in 2016 and prepared a groundwork to enter aluminum pouch film market. It made a strategic partnership with a Chinese battery manufacturer called Farasis in May of 2018 and it is working to lower level of its dependence on Japanese businesses.
BTL Advanced Material, which was established in 2017, acquired aluminum pouch business for secondary batteries and entire production facilities from Heesung Chemical in 2018. It created a prototype that is currently being evaluated by major Chinese battery manufacturers.
It is currently constructing second production facilities to increase production capacity and it is looking to operate the second facilities at the end of this year. There is also scheduled investment for the third facilities in 2020.
It explained that it has secured competitive level of electrolyte resistivity and formability, which are most important functions required for aluminum pouch, similar to that of Japanese products. Electrolyte resistivity indicates a level a battery can withstand from hydrofluoric acid that is created during a repetitive process of charge and discharge. Formability is in index that indicates how deep a pouch can be formed. Battery capacity can be increased as the index becomes higher resulting in more cathodes and anodes to be filled. BTL Advanced Material is also competitive in price as it can compete with Chinese products.
Reduced certification period that usually takes about six months on average and materialization of unit cost are keys to begin home production of aluminum pouch films early. These require consensus from South Korean Government or major corporations.
“Without close collaboration with battery manufacturers and pouch film developers, it is difficult to begin home production of aluminum pouch films early.” said CEO Cheon Sang-wook of BTL Advanced Material. “Because it is difficult to compete with Japanese businesses that are leading this market, we need support from South Korean Government and strategic partnership with major battery manufacturers to promote materials manufacturers and to make this crisis as an opportunity to create ‘second semiconductor industry’.
Staff Reporter Jung, Hyeonjung | iam@etnews.com

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