The automotive battery, which has put international makers into a production race, is the key to electric vehicle industry.
EnergyTrend observes that Taiwan’s battery industry doesn’t goes well because it has neither as much capital as Japanese or Korean makers nor low cost as Chinese manufacturers. However, in regard to battery cathode materials, Taiwan has risen against the wind: companies like Aleees and Changs Ascending have announced patents on cathode materials for lithium iron batteries, establishing their positions in the international market.
Upstream materials include cathode and anode materials, separators, electrolytes. EnergyTrend discovers that regarding the development of battery materials, most of the separator and electrolyte are imported from Japan but Taiwan makers are already able to mass-produce lithium iron cathode materials. Due to the difficult mass production, the end market is hard to open for long. Now the novel achievements in essential materials will assist Taiwan to make its way into the automotive battery market.
According to EnergyTrend research, Changs Ascending Enterprise Co. Ltd started researches on cathode materials such as lithium colbat, lithium manganese soon after its establishment. In 2005, it developed lithium iron patent and transformed itself into lithium iron material manufacturer. Now it is one of the world’s few makers capable of independent R&D and formal mass production of lithium iron oxide cathode materials. Last year, it joined hands with Formosa Group to found Formosa Energy & Material Technology and Material Co. Ltd. In the future, Formosa Energy & Material Technology will be responsible for mass production while Changs Ascending Enterprise still takes care of R&D and end product applications.
In Feburary, Changs Ascending obtained American USPTO patent (7494744), which covers from material structure to process and will further apply for patents in Europe, Japan, Korea, India, China and Taiwan. According to EnergyTrend, in Changs Ascending Enterprise, the monthly output of Li-ion cell cathode materials is 40 tons at present and expected to expand into 120 tons by the end of this year, likely 400 tons next year. Till then, in terms of lithium iron cathode materials production capability, the total yearly output of both Formosa Energy & Material Technology and Changs Ascending Enterprise can hit 5280 tons, jumping to the top of the world.
Hirose Tech Co. Ltd, a company reinvested by Acer, mainly supplying FPD inspection and measurement equipment also enters the field. It once provided related OEM products for a project team from Material and Chemical Research Laboratories of Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan (ITRI). The crossover move into LFP batteries was started as their products were found to have better performance than lab data description. So the company made a technology transition in the end of last year, formally stepping into the industry to produce key cathode materials for LFP batteries. Its present monthly output is 20 tons.
Tatung Fine Chemical Co. Ltd, an affiliate of Tatung Group, combined technologies from Tatung University and ITRI to develop LiFePO4 cathode materials in 2007 and put it into formal mass production. By the end of this year, the capacity is expected to reach 60 tons. Tatung owns patents on solution process technology in Japan, U.S and Taiwan, which maintains good powder uniformity and high power charge/discharge.
Advanced Lithium electrochemistry Co., Ltd (Aleees), a lithium iron material supplier, published its LFP-NCOTEC cathode material patent in 2007 and is capable of Li-ion cathode material mass production. This year the company will continue to expand capacity to follow Changs Ascending closely. In view of market segmentation, as the price of Aleees materials is 30% cheaper than offerings from European makers, all top Chinese battery manufacturers are its clients. Now its lithium iron cathode material has won around 40% market share.