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Far East Report



Battery Separators In Japan



Published December 4, 2009
Related Searches: Rise film Automotive nonwovens

Battery Separators In Japan

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a rise in hydrogen nickel automotive battery usage would mean increased nonwovens consumption

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rnBy Kin Ohmura

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Osaka Marketing Center

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Among the electric automobiles, there are pure electric vehicles (PEV), operating with an electric motor, and hybrid electric vehicles, operating with an electric motor and an engine. Both use installed batteries as the power supply for the motors. Production of hybrid electric vehicles is increasing and the majority of this market is dominated by two automotive producers—Toyota Motor Company and Honda Motor Company—in Japan. Although the nickel-hydrogen batteries are installed in the HEV’s made by both Toyota and Honda, the number of the installed electric cells differ depending on the type of HEV used. For instance, 168 units of electric cells are used in Toyota's Prius while 120 units are used in the Honda Civic hybrid. The electrode separators used in nickel-hydrogen batteries are made from polyolefin nonwovens and demand for these nonwovens has been increasing in sync with increased demand for HEVs.

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An electrode separator is inserted between the positive and negative electrodes of a cell to prevent two electrodes from coming in contact. It is alsosoaked and maintains the electrolytic solution. Polyolefin nonwovens used in nickel-hydrogen batteries require high quality materials, making the number of manufacturers capable of producing the materials limited. Currently Japan Vilene, Tokyo, Japan, is the only Japanese nonwovens manufacturer making the electrode separator for nickel-hydrogen batteries for HEV. Nickel-hydrogen batteries for HEVs are produced by two companies: Panasonic EV Energy and Sanyo Electric. Domestic production of these batteries in Japan in 2004 was estimated at 33 million units. These units required 2 million square meters of nonwovens as separators.

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While demand for nonwovens in this market continues to be quite small, it is expected to increase thanks to increased production of nickel-hydrogen batteries, which is expected to rise in scale with increased HEV output. Nevertheless, there is always the potential that nickel-hydrogen batteries could be replaced by a different type of battery such as a lithium-ion type, which is being promoted rapidly. This battery is separated by a film material.

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Therefore, manufacturers of hydrogen-nickel batteries must work hard to make this type of battery more efficiently to win the competition with the lithium-ion battery. Winning this competition will also fall to the maker of nonwovens for electrode separators who will need to improve.

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Kin Ohmura specializes in nonwovens, synthetic fibers and industrial textiles.