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Mitsubishi Chemical Group To Boost Li-ion Anode Material Output Capacity 70%, Enter Separators Market

Nikkei. Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. will spend ¥ 1 billion (US$10.5 million) to raise production capacity of lithium-ion anode materials by roughly 70% by next fall.

Although battery sales are struggling amid the slumping cellular phone market, the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. unit expects demand to recover in 2010 or later. It also anticipates growth in the automotive lithium ion battery business.

A third production line at its plant in Kagawa Prefecture will increase annual capacity from 3,000 tons to 5,000 tons. The company says it will consider boosting capacity there to 6,000 tons in fiscal 2010.

Mitsubishi Chemical controls 15% of the global market for this material and is among firms trying to catch world leader Hitachi Chemical Co. Mitsubishi Chemical controls 30% of the global market for electrolytes, and plans to make a full-scale entry into the positive-electrode material business from next fall. With Mitsubishi Plastics Inc. entering the market for separators next summer, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings will become the first firm to manufacture the four key materials for lithium-ion batteries.

Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation comprises three core companies: Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation; Mitsubishi Plastics, Inc.; and Mitsubishi Tanaba Pharma Corporation. Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC) was jointly established by Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation in October 2005. Then, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation formed by the merger between Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation and Tanabe Seiyaku Co., Ltd. The functional products businesses of the MCHC Group were restructured and consolidated as a new company, Mitsubishi Plastics, Inc. on 1 April 2008.

In 2007, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and GS Yuasa formed the joint venture Lithium Energy Japan to develop, manufacture and sell of large formate lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.)


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