Carbon nanotubes seem the way to go for lithium-ion batteries.
According to the latest news, LG Chem is investing 65 billion KRW ($53 million) to expand production capacity of carbon nanotubes (CNT) at its Yeosu plant in South Korea by 1,200 tons annually (from 500 tons to 1,700 tons) by Q1 2021.
Global demand for CNT was reportedly 3,000 tons annually, which means that LG Chem already controlled one-sixth of the market and now will increase its output by 240%.
The main reason for the expansion is lithium-ion batteries. In particular, batteries for electric cars.
Carbon nanotubes with their high electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity make them a perfect additive to battery electrodes.
"Conductive additives help the flow of electricity and electrons. In particular, it increases conductivity of lithium ions within electrode materials comprising active materials such as nickel, cobalt and manganese.
By using CNTs as conductive additives, it is possible to boost conductivity about 10% compared to existing carbon black and reduce the amount of conductive materials usage by about 30%; that space can be filled with additional electrode materials."
LG Chem has worked on CNT since 2011 and its first 20-ton pilot line was launched in 2013.
By 2024, global demand for CNT is expected to reach 13,000 tons, especially since there are plenty of applications other than batteries.