TOKYO, September 15, 2015 _ Ube Industries, Ltd. announced today that it has decided to expand its production capacity for lithium-ion battery separators by rebuilding existing facilities at its Ube Chemical Factory (Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture) while also establishing new production facilities for separators at Sakai Factory (Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture). The Company is taking these actions in response to growing demand for separators for automotive-use lithium-ion batteries.
Ube Industries began manufacturing separators at the Ube Chemical Factory in 1994. It has gradually increased production capacity at the site in line with the expanding market for lithium-ion batteries. The Company also started production of separators at Sakai Factory in 2013. With these two factories in Japan, the Company has delivered a stable supply of products while responding to growing demand.
Demand for lithium-ion batteries used in automotive applications is projected to increase greatly, especially for hybrid vehicles (HVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs), and electric vehicles (EVs). Likewise, further advances in the development of lithium-ion batteries for electricity storage and industrial applications are expected in the future.
Ube Industries' separator products are manufactured using a unique dry process, and they are already used widely in automotive applications. In 2011, the Company established Ube Maxell Co., Ltd. (Otokuni-gun, Kyoto Prefecture), a joint venture with Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. By combining the advanced technological expertise of the two founding companies, Ube Maxell manufactures high-performance coated separator films with diverse functions, including excellent reliability. Ube Maxell has also steadily increased its sales volume by taking advantage of market growth in and outside of Japan.
As the first phase in its new plan to expand production capacity, Ube Industries will rebuild its existing facilities at the Ube Chemical Factory, a project which is scheduled for completion in July 2016. Following that, as the second phase of the plan, the Company will establish new production facilities at the Sakai Factory, a project which is scheduled for completion in June 2017. This two-phase expansion will increase the combined production capacity of the factories to 200 million square meters of separator film, about 40% more than the current level. By boosting production capacity, Ube Industries will be able to respond to growing demand for separators in a timely manner, establish a solid presence in this expanding market, and further lead market growth. The Company will also consider gradually increasing production capacity to 300 million square meters by around 2020, about double the current level.
In its battery materials business, which is positioned as a strategic growth business, Ube Industries is working to expand its global sales of electrolytes by leveraging its expert ability to develop additive agents. The Company is also carrying out development of Artificial Micro Carbon (AMC) as a conductive agent for cathodes and anodes in lithium-ion batteries, and lithium titanium oxide (LTO) as an anode material. As the market for lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications is expected to keep growing globally, Ube Industries will strive to expand its battery materials business with a focus on such applications.
Products : Polyolefin microporous film UPORE®