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Celanese expands UHMW-PE production to meet EV battery demand

Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, added a new GUR ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) production line at its Bishop, Texas manufacturing facility to support the significant growth in its high-value GUR engineered materials portfolio.


GUR UHMW-PE microporous membranes have multiple applications as separators in lithium-ion batteries, ultracapacitors and fuel cells.

GUR UHMW-PE is a linear polyethylene with a much higher molecular weight than standard PE, which offers outstanding abrasion resistance, superior impact resistance, non-sticking and self-lubricating properties, and excellent mechanical characteristics, even in cryogenic conditions.

As a polyethylene with a very high molecular weight, GUR UHMW-PE is produced as a powder that requires special processing. In the semi-finished industry, the high pressures generated in compression molding and ram extrusion processes fuse the particles together. The material is then typically formed into stock shapes or profiles. It can also be processed by gelation and pressureless sintering.

GUR UHMW-PE can be gel processed for such applications as battery separators, synthetic paper or high-strength fiber applications.

Electric vehicle demand is expected to have a compounded annual growth rate of greater than 25 percent through 2025, resulting in strong demand for Celanese GUR for lithium-ion battery separators. Customers rely on Celanese for a reliable supply of GUR that meets very stringent quality standards, and our capacity expansion at our Bishop integrated chemical complex will enable Celanese to continue to support a growing and diverse customer base and respond to the increasing need for specialty materials such as ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene.

—Tom Kelly, Celanese Senior Vice President, Engineered Materials

This new production line at the Celanese Bishop manufacturing facility is expected to add approximately 15kt per year of GUR product capacity by the start of 2022.

Following the expansion of GUR capacity completed in June of 2019 at the company’s Nanjing, China integrated chemical complex, Celanese continues to be the only truly global producer of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene in Asia, North America and Europe, giving Celanese the unique ability to work closely with its customers in all three regions.

The explosive growth in electric vehicle sales around the world demonstrates that lithium-ion battery separator demand will experience significant growth in Asia and in Europe over the next five years. Celanese, as a reliable materials partner for our customers, is committed to investing further in local manufacturing capabilities to offer unmatched security of supply.

—Tom Kelly


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