Mitsubishi opens lithium ion batteries separator plant for electric vehicles in Japan

To meet rising demand for lithium ion batteries in electric cars, laptops and other devices, Mitsubishi Plastics Inc. is opening a second facility in Japan making polyolefin-based films for lithium-ion batteries.

The new plant, in Nagahama, will more than double the company’s capacity for its Sepalent brand film to a total of 27 million square meters a year when it starts commercial production next year.

“This production expansion was planned to meet the rising battery demand, with almost 2.5 billion yen ($32 million) having been invested in the project,” the company said.

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi had a July 24 ceremony to mark the completion of the new factory.

In 2009, the company opened its first lithium-ion battery separator film plant in Nagahama, with a capacity of 12 million square meters a year.

Its battery film has been used in mobile phones, power tools and laptop computers. The company has also developed a high heat-resistant separator for hybrid and electric vehicles, a market where it expects significant demand growth.

The separator is a porous film that allows the proper amount of lithium ions to pass through but prevents electrical shorts caused by the cathode coming into contact with the anode, the company said.