KCF Technologies of South Korea has begun mass production of 4-micron copper foil for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, claiming that it is the first company in the electro-deposited foil industry to achieve this landmark. The company had previously developed 6-micron foil in 2013 and 5-micron foil in 2017 under its former corporate identity as LS Mtron’s copper foil and copper clad laminate business, before it was spun off in March 2018 and renamed KCFT, while under the ownership of US private equity investor KKR & Co.
In early October, the company announced that it had successfully produced a 30km-long and 1,400mm-wide mother roll from which it can produce the ultra-thin battery foil. The development of thin lightweight copper foils is an essential component in the creation of the next generation of more powerful batteries that will extend the performance and endurance of electric vehicles. The 1,400mm width of the foil is optimal for EV battery manufacturers who require wider foil, while the foil can also be slit to narrower widths ideal for smart phone makers. KCFT also believes the foil could be applied to batteries for drones, where the power to weight ratio is of paramount importance.
KCFT currently operates three plants at its site in Jeongeup, Jeollabuk-do, with an annual production capacity of 20ktpy. However, it has been busy this year developing and constructing on land adjacent to its plants for a new commercial project. “When our fourth plant goes into operation in January next year, our production volume will climb to 30kt. Then we will be able to scale up our supply to all of our customers,” said Kim Young-tae, CEO of KCFT. Its key customers include LG Chemical, Samsung SDI, Panasonic, CATL, LG Innotek, Volkwagen, Audi, GM, BMW and Tesla.
SKC, a subsidiary of South Korea’s SK Group, is in the process of acquiring all of KCFT shares for 1.2Tn Won (US$1Bn) from KKR & Co. in a deal signed in June 2019. Previously, SKC sold its 49% shareholding in its chemical business to Kuwait’s petrochemical company PIC in order to secure the acquisition funds. In a separate transaction in late-2018, SK Holdings invested 270Bn Won (US$239M) to acquire a 30% stake in Lingbao Wason, a leading Chinese maker of copper foil.
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