Asahi Kasei plans $1.16bn investment in North American separator business

Asahi Kasei plans $1.16bn investment in North American separator business

Asahi Kasei plans $1.16bn investment in North American separator business 1024 579 Batteries International

May 3, 2024: Asahi Kasei, the Japanese chemical giant, announced at the end of April that it proposed to build a plant in Ontario, Canada for the base film manufacturing and coating of its Hipore wet-process lithium-ion battery separators.

Asahi says it planned to invest a total of ¥180 billion ($1.16 billion) in the plant which will have an annual production capacity of around 700 million square metres of coated film. Commercial start-up is scheduled for 2027.

Asahi has said in the past that the core of its energy storage focus is the Hipore wet-process LIB separator. “The Hipore business will play an important role in Asahi Kasei’s growth over the medium term,” said Hiroyoshi Matsuyama, senior executive officer of Asahi Kasei.

The potential market for lithium separators in North America will be huge.

ENTEK, the US manufacturer of wet-process lithium-ion battery separators, broke ground on a $1.5 billion separator plant in Indiana last September. This is set to produce up to 1.4 billion square meters of battery separators per year, enough, ENTEK says, to supply material for approximately 1.4 million vehicles, annually. 

As part of Asahi Kasei’s agreement, it has reached a basic understanding with Honda, the car OEM, and the two are considering a joint investment in the plant which will service Honda EVs across North America.

Funding will also come from the Canadian federal government, the provincial government of Ontario and ¥28 billion from the Development Bank of Japan for a special purpose vehicle, the Asahi Kasei Battery Separator Corp. This will be set up via a preferred share offering this October.

“Capturing market growth in North America will be essential for us,” said Matsuyama. “This partnership allows us to make a meaningful contribution to improvement of LIB performance in light of the anticipated growth in the electric vehicle market and the energy transition in North America.”