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LG Energy Solution Sets Sights on Battery Breakthrough by 2028, Challenging Tesla's Dominance

LG Energy Solution plans to commercialise game-changing dry-coating technology by 2028, challenging Chinese competitors. The dry-coating technology might cut battery manufacturing costs by 17% to 30%. LG intends to finish a pilot production line by the end of 2021 before beginning full-scale production in 2028.

Narae Nanotech's coating line
Credit: Bloomberg

The company intends to commercialise a game-changing dry-coating technique by 2028, providing a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to the standard wet process used in battery production.

Dry-coating technology, which is also being developed by businesses such as Tesla Inc. and Samsung SDI Co., seeks to replace the energy-intensive wet process for producing cathode and anode electrodes, which are critical components of electric car batteries. As demand for electric vehicles declines, the search for more cost-effective and environmentally friendly battery production processes becomes increasingly critical.

According to Kim Je-Young, the Chief Technology Officer of LG Energy Solution, the company has been at the forefront of dry-coating technology for the past decade. LG plans to complete a pilot production line for the dry-coating process by the end of this year and commence full-scale production in 2028. Kim estimates that the dry method could reduce battery manufacturing costs by 17% to 30%.

While Tesla acquired a dry-coating startup called Maxwell Technologies Inc. in 2019, its attempts to implement the technology for its 4680 battery cells in Texas have been met with limited success. The wet coating process, which involves dissolving chemicals in toxic solvents and drying them in lengthy ovens, is both costly and energy-intensive. In contrast, dry coating offers significant savings in energy, equipment costs, and space.

LG's bet on dry coating as a leapfrog innovation is aimed at regaining market share from Chinese battery makers. Currently, LG holds a 12.6% share of the EV battery market, down from 14.6% last year, largely due to the expansion of Chinese players like Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. and BYD Co. The average price of a lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery in China has dropped by 44% to US$53 per kilowatt hour through April.

LG's dry electrode manufacturing process is applicable to both cathodes and anodes, regardless of particle size. While creating the cathode through dry processing is more difficult than making the anode, LG's approach attempts to overcome these obstacles. Other firms, like as Panasonic Holdings Corp., CATL, EVE Energy Co., and Svolt Energy Technology Co., are developing dry electrode technology for 4680 cells with high energy density.

The development of more efficient battery manufacturing techniques creates an opportunity for equipment manufacturers. Hanwha Momentum Co., a subsidiary of the Hanwha Group, is researching the dry method in partnership with battery manufacturers. AM Batteries, a Massachusetts-based startup, has hired Tesla veterans to help build equipment for their spray method of dry-coating batteries. Narae Nanotech Corp., a South Korean business that provides coating for Apple devices, is looking into ways to optimise the wet process by lowering the coating line with xenon flash lamps.

As the electric vehicle industry reaches a critical phase and competition heats up, LG Energy Solution's ambitious plans for dry-coating technology have the potential to transform the battery landscape.

  • LG Energy Solution aims to commercialise game-changing dry-coating technology by 2028, challenging Chinese rivals.

  • Dry-coating process could reduce battery manufacturing costs by 17% to 30%.

  • LG plans to complete a pilot production line by the end of 2021 and commence full-scale production in 2028.

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