October 26, 2023: Korea said on October 4 it had raised concerns with the World Trade Organization over EU proposals to ban a group of chemicals crucial to batteries.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is recommending the ban on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — a proposal that has already been criticized by flow battery firms and other industry leaders.
Now Korea’s Ministry of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Agency for Technology and Standards has written to the ECHA over the issue and has told the World Trade Organization the ban could violate the body’s technical barriers to trade rules.
Even a gradual introduction of the ban, to find alternatives to PFAS, risks causing upheaval in the production of batteries and semi-conductors and recycling — which could delay the adoption of EVs, the ministry said.
Korea is calling on European authorities to first launch a detailed assessment of the potential environment and health effects of PFAS.
A Flow Batteries Europe position paper, released last month, warned that an outright and immediate ban on fluoropolymers — one of the PFAS category present in certain flow batteries’ ionomer and ion exchange membranes — would have a significant socio-economic impact on the EU and could cause innovative technology companies to leave the European market or shift focus from other flow battery technologies.