LG Chem pins hopes on carbon nanotubes

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LG Chem pins hopes on carbon nanotubes

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LG Chem’s carbon nanotube factory in Yeosu, South Jeolla. [LG CHEM]

LG Chem will tackle the next-generation materials market by producing carbon nanotubes at its newly built factory in Yeosu, South Jeolla.

According to the company Tuesday, the factory was built with a roughly 25 billion won ($21.5 million) investment last year and has started mass production of carbon nanotubes from January. It has a capacity of 400 tons a year, the largest capacity in the world for a single production line and fourth largest by total production capacity, according to the company.

Carbon nanotubes take the form of cylindrical carbon molecules and exhibit extraordinary strength and high electric and heat conductivity. They are used in semiconductors, batteries, auto parts and airplane bodies.

“A carbon nanotube has heat conductivity similar to diamonds and an intensity 100 times that of steel,” a spokesperson from LG Chem said. “It is called a dream material thanks to a wide variety of application potentials.”

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As the material is also used for making lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, global demand is expected to increase.

According to company projections, the carbon nanotube market will expand from 824 tons in 2016 to 1,335 tons in 2020, growing at an annual rate of 10 percent.

“Our investment is part of an effort to strengthen the company’s basic materials business by developing high value-added premium products,” the company said in a statement.

LG Chem will work to develop competitive carbon nanotubes with more than 10 percent higher intensity and conductivity compared to rivals and penetrate global markets including North America, Europe and China.

Currently the Yeosu factory is running at only one fourth the maximum production capacity, but as sales have begun upon mass production, the company aims to fully operate the factory by the end of 2018.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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