LG Chem announced that it has started Korea’s first-ever mass production of single-crystal high-nickel cathodes for next-generation batteries.

Production started on June 26, 2023, at the company's cathode plant located in Cheongju, 75 miles (120 km) southwest of Seoul, so the first batches of new battery materials will be sent to global clients starting in July.

According to LG Chem, which stands behind the LG Energy Solution battery manufacturer, single-crystal cathodes (made from single particles of several metals such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese) are essential for next-gen batteries as they can boost the battery lifespan by more than 30 percent and increasing the capacity by 10 percent or more - compared to the current solution.

Anticipating significant demand for the new cathode materials, LG Chem already plans expansion of the single-crystal high-nickel cathode production line to its Gumi plant (also in South Korea) by 2027. The total annual production output exceeds 50,000 tons annually.

We don't know the detailed specs, but we can estimate that such an amount would be equivalent to a significant battery gigafactory (or several gigafactories, assuming partial cathode content).

LG Chem explains that initially, battery manufacturers are expected to mix the new single-crystal particles with conventional cathode materials, starting from 20 percent content and gradually moving up to 100 percent.

"In the initial phases, LG Chem will be mixing single-crystal cathode materials to conventional cathode materials by a ratio of 2:8, and gradually switch to those containing 100% single-crystals."

An interesting part is that the new cathode materials are expected to be used in the upcoming 4680-type cylindrical battery cells, although initially they will be available for pouch-type batteries:

"LG Chem will also expand the application of these cathode materials to next-generation batteries such as 4680 cylindrical cells (with external dimensions of 46 millimeters in diameter and 80 millimeters in height) from existing pouch-type batteries."

LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-cheol said:

“We believe single-crystal high-nickel cathodes are a game-changing innovation in the future battery material market and also the key to solving our customers’ pain points. LG Chem will lead the market with advanced battery material technology and diversified product portfolio to become the largest integrated battery materials provider in the world.”

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