Chunbo inaugurates next-generation electrolyte plant on reclaimed land


[Courtesy of Saemangeum Development and Investment Agency]

SEOUL – Chunbo BLS, a subsidiary of South Korean chemical company Chunbo, has inaugurated a new production plant for a next-generation electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles in an industrial area set on reclaimed land near the southwest port city of Gunsan.

Chunbo believes the new plant will help the company cement its status as a key electrolyte producer at home and abroad. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 15 at the Saemangeum National Industrial Complex. The Chunbo plant is to be completed with an injection of more than 700 billion won ($570 million) by 2026 to produce some 20,000 tons of lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (LiFSI) per year.

LiFSI has been studied as a conductive salt for lithium-ion batteries. It has attracted attention as a new generation electrolyte material with excellent effects on high power, longevity and anti-corrosion. It prevents batteries from dying at low temperatures.

Chunbo has made no secret of its ambition to dominate the electrolyte market with price competitiveness, saying it will build LiFSI manufacturing facilities with an inexpensive and innovative manufacturing method. A separate plant capable of producing 10,000 tons of electrolytic additives per year will be built in parallel to improve Chunbo’s competitiveness.

Chunbo’s investment was seen as a timely response to the rapid introduction into the world of electric vehicles that prompted battery suppliers to develop cheaper, more efficient and more powerful products. The electrolyte is a crucial component that serves as a transport medium for lithium ions during charging and discharging, and improves battery performance and efficiency.

Chunbo will benefit from various tax and other incentives that the Saemangeum Industrial Zone operator has promised. Saemangeum Development and Investment Agency (SDIA) said earlier that Chunbo’s investment will play a major role in improving Saemangeum’s industrial condition.

SDIA has worked to attract domestic and foreign investors to a large area of ​​reclaimed land created by a sea wall that stretches 33 kilometers (20 miles) along the coast. The seawall built in 2010 has been certified by Guinness World Records as the longest man-made sea barrier in the world which created an area of ​​around 400 square kilometers and a reservoir of fresh water.

Under a project sponsored by the regional government of North Jeolla Province, the construction of a testbed for the research and development of high-speed autonomous driving technologies began in Saemangeum in November 2021. Self-driving cars with Level 3 or higher self-driving technologies will be developed in the test area. A 21 kilometer long test road, as well as safety and analysis facilities, will be built by the end of 2022.

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