A subsidiary of Chinese leading battery maker CATL has planned a new lithium salt project that could house as much as 110,000 tons in Longyan City, Fujian Province, Cailian Press reported on September 30.
The first phase of 60,000 tons of lithium bis (fluorosulfonyl) imide (LiFSI) has already been put into production. The second phase consisting of 50,000 tons of lithium material with fluoride and 100,000 tons of lithium salt raw materials may be started at the end of this year or next year. The third phase of the new lithium salt R&D and production project is still in the process of land acquisition with the specific production capacity not yet clear. In addition, another holding company of CATL is already building a 50,000-ton LiFSI project.
The new lithium salts represented by LiFSI have the advantages of high conductivity, low water sensitivity and good thermal stability. These types of deposits are mainly used as additives in electrolytes. With the trend of more nickel in power batteries, LiFSI is becoming another option for many battery and electrolyte enterprises. Although LiFSI produces high corrosion on aluminum foil, the problem can be solved by additives.
Furthermore, LiFSI’s price is also falling. According to a CITIC Securities’ report, from 2017 to 2021, the price of LiFSI per ton was 700,000 yuan ($98,393), 550,000 yuan, 490,000 yuan, 450,000 yuan, 400,000 yuan respectively, while the price of lithium hexafluorophosphate soared to 565,000 yuan tons in 2021, exceeding that of LiFSI.
According to a report by Huajin Securities, the large-scale application and mass production of CATL’s Kirin battery and Tesla’s 4680 cylinder battery are expected to increase the proportion of LiFSI in batteries, which means that LiFSI has been upgraded from new additives to lithium solute. BYD, EVE Energy, Gotion High-Tech also have LiFSI-related patents.
CITIC Securities predicts that LiFSI capacity will expand by about 37,000 tons and 65,000 tons year-on-year in 2023 and 2024, respectively. It is estimated that the planned capacity of LiFSI will reach 137,000 tons in 2025. 98% of the planned new capacity of LiFSI in the next five years will come from Chinese enterprises.