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Asahi Kasei plans to build a lithium-ion battery separator plant in Canada

Asahi Kasei has announced plans to construct an integrated plant in Ontario, Canada, for the manufacturing of base film and coating of Hipore™ wet-process lithium-ion battery (LIB) separators. In connection with this initiative, Asahi Kasei has entered into a basic agreement with Honda Motor Co., Ltd., to explore potential joint investment opportunities. Additionally, funding for the establishment of Asahi Kasei Battery Separator Corp.2, slated for October 2024, will be provided by the Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) through the issuance of preferred shares. It is anticipated that financial support will also be received from both the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario for this investment.

The investment details are as follows:

  1. Location: Ontario, Canada
  2. Plant Overview: Integrated facility for base film manufacturing and coating of Hipore™ lithium-ion battery separators
  3. Total Investment Amount: Approximately ¥180 billion
  4. Production Capacity: Approximately 700 million m² per year (as coated film)
  5. Start of Operation: Commercial start-up scheduled for 2027

The funds for this investment will be provided through ES Materials Holdings Corp., a North American separator business company, to ES Materials Canada Corp., responsible for the Canadian separator business, and E-Materials Canada Corp., handling plant construction and manufacturing.

As per the company statement, Asahi Kasei’s Energy Storage business is a key component of its fiscal 2024 strategy, encompassing the Hipore™ wet-process LIB separator. This business segment is now expanding into automotive applications. The company’s plan to build an LIB separator plant in Ontario, Canada, is driven by North American demand and is aligned with regional clean energy policies. For this, Asahi Kasei and Honda have agreed to establish a supply chain for high-performance batteries in the North American plug-in electric vehicle market. They are considering a joint venture to manufacture Hipore™ separators for EV batteries in the region.

“To achieve carbon neutrality, Honda is targeting 100% of global sales from EVs and FCVs by 2040,” said Manabu Ozawa, Managing Executive Officer of Honda. “The separator is an extremely important component that contributes to higher performance and durability of batteries that are essential to EVs. We are very excited to partner with Asahi Kasei, having outstanding technological capability and broad expertise regarding separators. This will allow us to realize highly competitive EVs that can meet future growing demand in the North American market.”

“The Hipore™ business will play an important role in Asahi Kasei’s growth over the medium term,” added Hiroyoshi Matsuyama, Senior Executive Officer of Asahi Kasei. “Capturing market growth in North America will be essential for us. This partnership with Honda, having a rich track record in the North American automotive market and aggressively electrifying its vehicle lineup, allows us to make a meaningful contribution to improvement of lithium-ion-battery performance in light of anticipated growth in the electric vehicle market and the energy transition in North America.”

As part of constructing the Hipore™ separator plant in Canada, Asahi Kasei Battery Separator Corp. will receive ¥28 billion in funding from DBJ through the issuance of preferred shares. Asahi Kasei aims to achieve production scale aligned with market expansion while minimizing investment risk. It anticipates financial support from the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, facilitated through Invest Ontario, in line with a memorandum of understanding between Canada and Japan concerning battery supply chains signed in September 2023, as stated in their company statement.

Also read: Lithium-ion cell manufacturing and value chain | Current landscape in India

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