Toyocolor, the colorants and functional materials arm of the specialty chemicals company Toyo Ink Group of Japan, announced that the company’s Lioaccum conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions (earlier post) have been selected by the world’s largest battery manufacturer CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited) for use in CATL’s next-generation high capacity li-ion batteries (LiB). Lioaccum CNT dispersions are scheduled for installation into mass-produced vehicles beginning 2024.
With governing bodies around the world tightening emission restrictions on gasoline-powered vehicles in an effort to achieve carbon neutrality, the percentage of EVs in the new vehicle market is expected to jump from 8% in 2022 to 30% in 2030. China’s EV market, one of the three largest automobile markets in the world, is broadly divided into the sub-markets of budget models for running short distances and high-end models that require longer cruising ranges. High-capacity LiBs are critical to extending cruising range for high-end vehicles.
The Lioaccum dispersion adopted by CATL is a key material that contributes to the expanded capacity and energy density of LiBs through the adoption of highly conductive CNTs. While the stable distribution of high-performance carbon nanotubes was once considered difficult to accomplish, Toyocolor succeeded in applying its proprietary dispersion technology to overcome technical hurdles and achieve highly stable CNT dispersions of high quality.
In line with CATL’s supply needs, the Toyo Ink Group will be expanding the capacity of its dispersion production base, Zhuhai Toyocolor Co., Ltd., in Guangdong, China.
Toyocolor, the core competency of which is carbon dispersion, has been supplying carbon black dispersions for LIB cathodes since 2015. LIB cathodes consist mainly of active materials, conductive materials and a binder. By substituting CNTs for carbon black as the conductive material, Toyocolor was able to achieve conductive performance with a nominal amount of material.
Toyocolor has been developing high-performance CNTs in collaboration with CNT manufacturers. The company applies its proprietary additives and dispersion manufacturing methods to increase CNT dispersibility and conductivity. This allows battery producers to lower the internal resistance of LIB cathodes with a smaller amount of conductive material.
These technical advances not only lower the cost of materials used in battery manufacturing, but it also leads to increased levels of active materials in the cathode, thus making it possible to boost battery capacity, extend EV cruising range and improve EV rapid-charge performance.