In order to meet growing demand from the automotive industry, Ube Industries will be expanding its lithium-ion battery separator production capacity at its Sakai Factory (Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture), which supports the production of Toyota Prius batteries.
The expansion project, which will take place after current production expansion construction finishes, is expected to be completed by April 2018. Once completed, total separator production capacity at the Ube Chemical Factory and Sakai Factory will rise to 250 million square meters annually.
Ube Industries’ current plans call for an increase in total annual separator production capacity to 300 million square meters by the year 2020 or so.
The press release provides more: “Demand for lithium-ion batteries used in automotive applications is projected to grow significantly, for use in hybrid vehicles (HVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs), and electric vehicles (EVs), with actual demand growing at this time. Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries are projected to be increasingly used in applications such as energy storage systems and industrial applications. Ube Industries manufactures separators using a dry process and its separators are already widely used in automobiles. In 2011, Ube Industries and Hitachi Maxell, Ltd established Ube Maxell Co, Ltd, located in Otokuni-gun, Kyoto Prefecture, as a joint venture to manufacture high-performance coated separator films. Ube Maxell is recording steady growth in sales volumes of high-performance coated separator films in markets in and outside of Japan, including being used in lithium-ion batteries for the fourth generation Toyota Prius.”
Battery separator production began at the Sakai Factory in 2013.