Sumitomo Chemical to more than double PERVIO Li-ion separator production capacity; supplier to Panasonic, Tesla
Sumitomo Chemical will more than double its production capacity for lithium-ion secondary battery separators, marketed under the PERVIO brand name. The production at its Ohe Works in Niihama, Japan will be raised to approximately 1.3 times the current capacity by next spring. In April 2014, Sumitomo began expanding Ohe Works’ capacity for Previo by approximately 1.7 times in the spring of 2014, approximately 1.9 times in the fall of 2014, and approximately 2.3 times by the spring of 2015.
In addition, Sumitomo will build a new plant for PERVIO at its subsidiary in South Korea, scheduled to start commercial-scale production in 2017.
PERVIO, which combines a heat-resistant layer composed of aramid fiber and ceramics with a polyolefin substrate, contributes to battery safety. PERVIO is chiefly used in automotive battery cells through its use in Panasonic’s high-capacity and high-energy density cylindrical lithium-ion secondary batteries. Through Panasonic, the cells with PERVIO separators are used in Tesla Motors’ Model S.
Recently, automotive demand for lithium-ion secondary batteries has been expanding demand, reflecting automakers’ active drive to launch various electric vehicles. Responding to the situation, Sumitomo Chemical has thus far increased its production capacity for PERVIO in a stepwise manner.
Expecting further growth in demand, however, Sumitomo decided not only to raise the production capacity at the Ohe Works, but to set up a new plant for the product at its subsidiary in South Korea, so that it can fortify its stable supply capability by having multiple production bases as well as preparing for possible further expansions in the years ahead.
Sumitomo Chemical aims to establish a business cluster based on the PERVIO products.
In 2013, Polypore International, Celgard unit filed a suit against Sumitomo Chemical over separator patent infringement. Later that year, Sumitomo and Polypore entered into a Settlement and License Agreement ending all outstanding worldwide litigation between the two companies related to Polypore's intellectual property rights on battery separator coating.
Under the License Agreement, Sumitomo Chemical licensed Polypore’s intellectual property related to coating separators for lithium-ion batteries. The financial terms of the Agreement included an up-front payment to Polypore as well as recurring royalties.
Polypore subsequently sold itself (earlier post), with Celgard now with Asahi Kasei.