LG Chem enters production of single crystal battery cathode to increase EV battery life by 30%

29 June 2023, 04:44:51

LG Chem enters production of single crystal battery cathode to increase EV battery life by 30%LG Chem announced in South Korea that it has started mass production of high-nickel single-particle (single crystal) cathode materials for next-generation EV batteries at its Cheongju cathode material plant in June. The first batch of products will be sent to global customers in July. LG Chem plans to expand its single-particle cathode material production line to its Gumi plant by 2027 and expand its total production scale to more than 50,000 tons per year.

The single-particle cathode material is a material made of several metals such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese into a single particle shape (one-body), and is considered to be the key to solving the key challenges of next-generation batteries such as longevity and capacity.

The existing cathode material was a multi-grain (polycrystalline) structure made of metal particles in small bundles. As the charging and discharging are repeated, the gap between the materials widens, and gas is generated in the gap, hence the battery life gradually degrades.

The use of durable single-particle cathode materials produces less gas, which increases stability and increases the battery life by more than 30%. As the problem of poor battery life has been regarded as a barrier to the spread of electric vehicles, it is expected that single-particle cathode materials will contribute to surpassing the limits of existing batteries.

Single-particle cathode materials can be denser than conventional cathode materials, increasing the capacity of the battery by more than 10%. For example, if an electric vehicle equipped with a battery made of conventional cathode material travels 500 km on a single charge, a single-particle cathode battery of the same size and weight can travel more than 550 km.

It is the first time that LG Chem is mass-producing high-nickel single-particle cathode materials in Korea. LG Chem has identified that the problem of gas generation in batteries is a pain point for customers, and has been conducting full-scale R&D since 2021 to improve it.

In the initial mass production, LG Chem plans to produce a mixture of single-particle cathode materials and existing secondary particle cathode materials in a ratio of 2:8, and then gradually change to cathode materials containing only 100% single particles. The application will also be expanded to pouch types and 4680 cylindrical batteries (46mm in diameter and 80mm in length).

Shin Hak-chul, Vice Chairman of LG Chem, said, "High-nickel single-particle cathode materials are a game-changing innovation in the future battery material market and the key to solving customers' pain points."

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