Hansol Chemical is planning to develop, produce and supply cathode materials for the first time, people familiar with the matter told TheElec Wednesday.
The company will receive the necessary technologies from Samsung, the people said. Hansol will begin supplying the materials to Samsung SDI afterwards, they said.
Hansol has made and supplied adhesives for batteries before. But this is the first time it is producing a core material used in battery production.
The company is currently testing the production of silicon-based cathode materials at its factory in Jeonju. Last year, it secured 94,000 meter-square of land at Iksan to begin production right away after testing is complete. Last year, in its investment agreement to secure the land with the city of Iksan, it only said it will make materials for batteries, without elaborating.
Hansol will invest 137.3 billion won by 2023 for production of cathode materials, the people said.
The silicon cathode material technology used by Samsung SDI was developed by Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, an arm of Samsung Electronics.
Back in 2015, Samsung transferred the technology to Chinese material maker BTR in return for being the exclusive buyers of the material. However, BTR recently attempted to sell its “self-developed” cathode materials to another company, which was “found out” by Samsung SDI, the people said.
Samsung has chosen Hansol as an alternative supplier as a result, they said.
This is not the first time Hansol has received technology from Samsung. Hansol makes quantum dot (QD) materials which are made as films by companies such as MNTech. These films are then used by Samsung Electronics to produce QLED TVs.
Silicon cathode materials have an advantage in carrying more energy but is vulnerable to swelling. Carbon graphite is mixed to offset this __ accounting for around 5% of the total material used in make the cathode materials.
If Hansol succeeds in its development, it will become the second South Korean company to do so after Daejoo Electronic Materials, which supplies them to LG Chem. Posco Chemical is also developing its own.
However, Chinese firm BTR is expected to face difficulties from Hansol entering the arena. BTR dominates in natural graphite but is behind in synthetic graphite to Hitachi Chemical, ShanShan and Zichen.
According to SNE Research, demand for cathode materials was 190,000 metric tonnes last year. This will grow to 1.36 million metric tonnes by 2025, growing at an annual average rate of 39%.