Toyocolor Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, the colorants and functional materials division of Japan’s Toyo Ink Group, today announced that it was tapped to supply the North American and European operations of SK Innovation, a South Korean lithium-ion (li-ion) battery manufacturer, with Toyocolor’s Lioaccum™ series of conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions. Lioaccum dispersions are used as the conductive additive in li-ion cathodes to help expand li-ion battery capacity of electric vehicles (EVs), for increased driving distances and faster charging performance. They will help power SK Innovation’s li-ion batteries installed in EVs manufactured by the Volkswagen Group and the Ford Motor Company.
In recent years, the shift toward EVs is accelerating rapidly due to the global trend toward decarbonization, and many automakers have announced plans to sell only EVs by 2025 to mid-2030s. Li-ion batteries are the most common battery-type used in modern EVs due to their higher energy capacity. The incorporation of CNTs as the conductive additive is essential to increasing capacity but there have been a number of issues associated with CNT dispersion that have hindered its practical use. To resolve this issue, leveraging its unique dispersion technology, Toyocolor researchers in Japan successfully achieved high conductivity levels by replacing carbon black in the battery cathode with a small amount of Lioaccum CNT dispersions as the conductive additive. Reduced material usage not only gives battery manufacturers the additional cell space to insert active materials needed to boost battery capacity and performance, but it also considerably reduces manufacturing cost.
At present, Toyocolor is providing SK Innovation with Lioaccum dispersions produced at the Group company LioChem in Conyers, Georgia, USA, with supply to commence from Toyo Ink Hungary in Pest, Hungary to SK Innovation’s European plants, in the first quarter of 2022. In line with the rising demand for EVs, Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co., Ltd., the parent company of the Toyo Ink Group, plans to invest approximately 10 billion yen up to 2026, to strengthen its global battery dispersions production network (see map) and to ensure a reliable global supply. The Group aims to develop this business into a core business with sales of 20 billion yen annually.
Toyocolor oversees the Toyo Ink Group’s Colorants and Functional Materials business segment as a core operating company. The company is headquartered in Tokyo and operates five production facilities in Japan and 13 locations outside the country. Based on its high-quality organic pigment and dispersion technology accumulated over a century of product development, Toyocolor produces specialty chemicals having various functionalities for a wide array of fields, such as electronics and energy.